Unit 8 Assignment 2 by Skylar McVicar

Both Kurt and Richter use painting as a medium to contemplate and investigate certain life happenings. These two artists could be representing reality using fantasy ideas in their work. In Never Look Away, Kurt paints as a type of therapy intentionally aimed to communicate the truth. However, Kurt never promotes his paintings in a way where they would effectively translate his overwhelming fear. Merely by creating this art, Kurt is pursuing the act of “making yourselves free” and “liberating the world.” His work is potentially dangerous because it is truthful. Kurt is willing to take this risk because “everything that’s true is beautiful.” Richter also uses his art to represent certain truths and situations that have occurred so the audience does not forget. For example, in Richter’s “October 18, 1977” collection, he shows the progression of a scenario by increasingly blurring the images in the series showing the frustration he has with the audience’s ignorance and lack of attention. Richter claims these paintings “can give us new insights” on the horrors of the past. Like Sontag, Richter emphasizes “we can’t simply discard or forget” the atrocities of the past and “we must try to find a way of dealing with it.”

Unit 8 Assignment 1 by Skylar McVicar

“Shadows of the Summit Pointing West”(1960)

! Claiming that France is willing to use any means to achieve their ends is ironic coming from a German writer reflecting on German history.

? What is Khruschev’s intention with reducing the Soviet army by 1.2 million soldiers? What is Khruschev trying to prove before entering the Summit?

“Hitler Within You”(1961)

! This column emphasizes the need for bystanders to speak out for freedom wherever they see it threatened. This call to action is relevant across the globe today.

? How do German citizens reconcile with the fact that their ancestors were involved with the crimes of the Third Reich? How can current scholars use this history to find answers about the past?

“Everybody Talks About the Weather”(1969)

! The structure of capitalism creates a society in which women and children are dispensable and isolated.

? How are women and children treated under regimes other than capitalism?

“Women in the SDS: Acting on Their Own Behalf”(1968)

! Women need to take agency over their actions to strike against their male aggressors and make the tension between males and females clear and transparent.

? Is exposing women to their unknown subjugation the most important step toward eventual equality of the sexes? Without knowledge, action cannot occur.


! Writing for a column is a way to make profit and gain prestige while acting as a pressure release.

? Could writing for a column be dangerous if the content is unmonitored?

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum film

! Having freedom of the press could potentially do more harm to someone than good.

? What are current American examples of figures targeted by the media who may be innocent?

Baader-Meinhof Komplex film

! Sometimes radical events with good intentions can retrogress a society’s progress as shown when Germany moves towards a police state after the protests.

? How can a government provide equal rights to all citizens when some are using the freedoms granted by the government to try and overthrow it?

Unit 7 Post 1 by Skylar McVicar

Personally, I chose Thomas’ translation because I liked the structure of the poem, the rhyme scheme was clearer, and the chosen word choice elicited stronger connotative associations for me than the Anderson translation. Emily Evans, on the other hand, chose the Anderson translation because she felt that the sentences flowed better and liked the poem portion, rhyme scheme, and the sentence structure better over Thomas’ translation. To her, Thomas’ writing style was odd in contrast. Similarly, Olivia Harper prefers the Anderson translation to the Thomas translation because she feels the translation is more organic. She likes how Anderson introduces the rhyme scheme later on in the translation to give readers time to adjust. This translation style made the translation seem more genuine and to more effectively communicate the message. After discussing the difference between the two translations, I can see both Emily’s and Olivia’s point regarding Anderson’s translation. It is really interesting how two translations of the same writing can be portrayed in ways that mean vastly different things to separate people.

Stalin’s Terror Poetry Lecture ! & ?

! The reason why poets, authors, scholars, and intellects were so highly monitored and regulated during The Terror was because poetry had the power to critique Stalin’s authority. If it reached and influenced the masses, then a massive uprising could occur. Thus, it was in Stalin’s best political interest to limit freedom of speech and press during The Terror.

? Did Stalin’s methods in The Terror influence Hitler’s methods in The Holocaust?

Campus Commentary Gamut Dance by Skylar McVicar 2/26/2020

Watching the talented dancers of the Gamut Dance Company perform on stage was breathtaking and moving, especially after learning about political movement and activism through dance in Dr. Bory’s Unit 5. All the dances were choreographed by students except for one dance showcasing Dr. Bory’s one-of-a-kind choreographed work called “Instructions for approaching the edge.” In this piece, four girls dressed in black began by stepping in place and repeatedly counting from one to ten in different languages. Each movement was rigid and robotic like, indicating a dehumanization and lack of individual thought. Occasionally, one dancer would stray from the line but eventually conform to the movements of the group. These moves mixed with the number counting could be interpreted in several ways. I saw it as a way to say that all humans, despite different languages and cultures, are the same when stripped down to basic bodily functions. However, others could interpret it as a depiction of rigid confines and instructions in order to succeed in society today. Another thought provoking dance was of four girls with different faces taped on the back of their heads. Almost the entire dance was performed with fake faces toward the audience. Perhaps this dance could be indicating that we are all equal people on the inside and we need to look past outer appearance when assessing people.

Campus Commentary on Susan Rice 2/10/2020 by Skylar McVicar

This past Monday I attended Susan Rice’s gripping and relevant lecture. Besides discussing foreign policy and her time working in the White House as President Obama’s national security adviser and the United Nations ambassador, Rice focused on emphasizing the importance of family and believing in yourself. Starting with her family history and experience persevering through racial discrimination, Rice demonstrated just how real racism, ageism, and sexism are in the current social and professional environments. Because of these challenges, Rice realized that bigotry and discrimination are the result “of somebody else’s insecurity,” so one should not let him/herself be defined by another person’s opinion and stereotypes. Additionally, Rice explained her concept of tough love, a combination of “loving fiercely but not uncritically.” She exercises tough love in both her personal and professional life. Another inspiring point Rice posits is that the values that unite our country are more important and binding than the polarizing differences currently plaguing Americans. As a united people, we have overcome periods of worse turmoil like the American Civil War and the two world wars. Thus, we have the capacity to wiggle away from our current gridlock and connect Americans behind the common focus of progressing and benefiting America.

Campus Commentary on Bryan Stevenson 1/28/2020 by Skylar McVicar

This past Tuesday, I attended Bryan Stevenson’s speech to the Davidson community. I took four main points away from his lecture: be proximate, change the current narrative, have hope, and become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Firstly, Stevenson emphasized the only significantly impactful volunteerism and activism is usually done while in close proximity to the addresses problem. Instead of sitting comfortably separated from injustice, people with truly pure intentions will seek out the issue. This action allows one to forge an emotional connection to a subject thus feeding motivation and determination to help. In Tamura’s unit 3, she emphasized the same importance of gaining proximity. When in close location to someone, the onlooker is able to imagine the other person’s situation creating a sense of compassion. Secondly, Stevenson encouraged the audience to actively work in changing the incorrect narrative and stigma surrounding a perceived injustice. For instance, he included the example of a current narrative saying that some children are demonized and monstrous. Instead of judging children on an action they might have committed for safety measures, people should understand the situation that may have spurred immoral behavior. Third, the integral role of hope in creating change was emphasized. Without hope, no one will be motivated to change the current unjust societal structure because it is viewed as impossible. Fourth, Stevenson urges us to step outside our comfort zone. As a result of taking uncomfortable risks, a great reward could result much more significant than the cost. Finally, Stevenson made me realize that we are all broken in one way or another. Thus, we should acknowledge this about ourselves and use it to create empathy for others who might be more broken than you.

Unit 4 Assignment 2 by Skylar McVicar

This page is a series of panels depicting a movie theater in 1961 Nashville refusing tickets to African-American customers. Showing the black protestors patiently standing in line during a snowstorm waiting their turn to ask for a ticket and then re-entering the back of the queue communicates the nonviolence and dedication associated with the “stand-ins”(17) aspect of the Freedom Movement. Additionally, Lewis shows the comments and thoughts of white patrons by including a speech bubble of a white man saying “can you believe this?”(17) to his wife. This speech is also in a different font from the rest of the text, adding to the emphasis of these words. Clearly, the white patrons grew impatient and aggravated by this disturbance. Since they are not used to waiting in frigid temperatures and being refused service, this drawing expresses the white community’s ambivalence toward the Civil Rights cause and demonstrates their privilege as they selfishly wanted the black protestors to leave for their own benefit. Additionally, the movie playing was a screening of the Ten Commandments. This inclusion is particularly ironic because the Ten Commandments were written as a reminder to treat all human beings with respect and encourages people to live peaceful and productive lives. Even though this is the message of the movie the white customers are wanting to see, it is clear they will ignore this theme and continue unfair discrimination against their African-American equals. Lewis most likely includes the speech bubble mentioning the Ten Commandments in the center of the page to draw attention to this inconsistency of thought. By drawing three white men skipping giddily in a circle chanting “Hup two three four”(17) outside the ticket office, Lewis is showing the cycle of segregation perpetuated by unaffected white bystanders who seem to be mocking the protests with their cheers. This series of panels stirs frustration among readers and sympathy for the activists waiting in the cold and receiving blatant disrespect.

Unit 4 Assignment 1 by Skylar McVicar

Mary Church Terrell

  • Background
    • Born in Tennessee in 1863
    • Daughter of two former slaves
    • She attended Oberlin College
    • First African-American woman to earn a college degree
  • Religion
    • Taught at a college associated with the Methodist Church
  • Expressions of violence

Ida B. Wells

  • Background
    • Born into slavery during Civil War
    • Moved to Tennessee after yellow fever killed her parents
    • Moved to Chicago after she was removed from a train car for no reason and received backlash from the community
  • Religion
    • Devout Christian
    • Emulated her parents’ commitments to religion and racial uplift by merging the two concepts and making them the essence of her activism
    • Social, political and economic justice were civil rights and intrinsic to Christian ideals, righteousness, and self identity
  • Expressions of violence
    • Traveled to shed light on the lynching issue to foreign audiences
    • Was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club
    • A vocal critic of the condition of blacks only schools
    • Fought for women’s suffrage
    • Led an anti-lynching campaign in D.C.
    • Founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) along with MAry Church Terrell
    • Fought against prejudice, no matter what potential dangers she faced

Both women were extremely influential and impactful activists. Their common history of slavery and discrimination fueled their individual desires to fight against discrimination for all blacks and women. Because of their experiences with unlawful discrimination, both women faught in their communities and at the state and federal levels to enact change. Women nowadays constitute the particular focus of both Terrell and Wells by fighting for certain rights even when the male majority wants to oppress women. Through their actions, Terrell and Wells encourage all black people facing racial prejudice to respond by fighting against their oppressors with education and activist movements. Often times, the courts are where the most lasting action will be implemented.

Skylar McVicar Campus Event MacBeth 11/3/19

Earlier today, I saw the afternoon production of MacBeth. After reading it in high school and forming my own opinions on how it would look live action, it was interesting to see the college director’s interpretation of set, lighting, characters, and dialogue. My two favorite scenes performed in today’s production were when MacBeth sees Banquo’s ghost at the dinner party in the castle and when Lady MacBeth admits her guilt while sleepwalking. In this first scene, the actor playing MacBeth did a great job of acting mad, and the lighting crew spotlighting the confused onlookers helped in my understanding of the situation. When reading the play, it is easier to understand that only MacBeth can see Banquo as a representation of his guilt and anguish; however, in a live performance, this concept can be difficult to grasp. Thus, I applaud the actors and the crew for making this particular scene so engaging and transparent. My other favorite scene was expertly performed because the audience could physically feel the subconscious guilt, agony, and torment that Lady MacBeth was experiencing for ordering the murders because of the incessant rubbing of her hands. The audience could feel the friction because we have most likely all rubbed our own hands before and felt the resultant heat. Congratulations to the cast and crew who worked tirelessly on this production.

Unit 3 Assignment 3 by Skylar McVicar

Simultaneously reading Sontag and Gourevitch is impactful because both are commenting on the parts of human nature that people tend to ignore and overlook. By discussing death through photography, Sontag convinces readers that photography perpetuates a death into eternity. Looking at an image of a person dying or dead is to look at a person “forever about to be murdered, forever wronged”(Sontag, 61). Even though onlookers do not personally know this person and cannot relate to his/her suffering, these images are impactful because they force us to think about unfamiliar situations. Despite their important impact, governments have begun censoring the amount of gruesome photos exposed to the public because each photo has a double message as they show suffering and the inevitability of tragedy(Sontag, 71). The government wants its citizens to stay disconnected from terrors because the more separation from a horrifying situation means the more apathy a person has toward the subject. Many photos of dead people show a blank stare and an ambivalent attitude on the dead person’s face. Sontag believes this is because the dead are uninterested in the living. The living “don’t get it. We truly can’t imagine what it was like”(Sontag, 125) for the dead people in their suffering. We see these images and sympathise for a time and then forget because this mass representation of suffering has become normalized. Resultantly, authors and photographers take it upon themselves to actively and accurately communicate and commemorate the stories of the dead. Through Gourevitch’s writing, he hopes to make the forgotten cries of the Rawandan people known to the public so a horrific event like the Rawandan Genocide will never happen agian. Ironically, while standing at the Hollocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C. Gourevitch noticed signs that said “Remember” and “Never Again” while that day’s newspaper had photos of Rawandan Genocide victims on the front page. Gourevitch hypothesises that people often ignore the pain of others because they simply cannot comprehend the “hell on earth”(Gourevitch, 164) that others have to face. This process “of compression and imagination”(Gourevitch, 165) noticed by Gourevitch is exactly what Sontag highlights in her book. The general population struggles to understand the hardships of far away people, thus they are less likely to act. Both Sontag and Gourevitch are trying to communicate the importance of rememberance and thoughtfulness by writing about photography and the Rawandan Genocide.

Passport Reflection by Skylar McVicar

At the Create a Passport Workshop, I was assigned an identity as a Norweigan mother of two adopted Indian babies. By simulating a Norweigian citizen with stateless children stuck in India, I was able to sympathize with the problems that stateless people may face in a way I hadn’t been able to before. I went to India to adopt my children, but the Norweignan government would not allow me to enter Norway again with them for fear that I was human trafficking them because I adopted the children. If they were my own blood, then I likely would not have had this same problem. This situation is frustrating because the government assumed I had ill intentions for the children when I really just went to India to adopt them. An additional frustration is that I cannot stay in India with the babies because I am not an Indian citizen and do not have a job or way to make money there.

Unit 3 Assignment 2 by Skylar McVicar

Chapter 1

In Sontag’s first chapter, she introduces her ideas about graphic, gruesome images in modern society and how they contribute to violence and war. Firstly, Sontag emphasizes the difference between the male and female satisfaction in and desire for war. According to Sontag, most men “like war”(Sontag, 3) because there is “some glory, some necessity”(Sontag, 3) associated with war in perpetuating manliness that women do not feel. Then, Sontag transitions into explaining how photographs are an important form of communication as they serve to show images that the “privileged and the merely safe might prefer to ignore”(Sontag, 7). People and governments can use photographs for multiple purposes and can use captions to spin the images in a certain way. Photographs can be used as a “call for peace. A cry for revenge… [or] bemused awareness”(Sontag, 13) of terrible images that can either numb people or empassion people. 

Violent images imprint in the brains of observers, thus they are an important tool for preventing or encouraging force.

Chapter 6:

Continuing her exploration of photography’s impact on human emotion, in Chapter 6 Sontag discusses the apathy that comes with over-saturation of gruesome, horrible images. When there are so many of these images distributed, people often “feel obligated to look”(Sontag, 95) at the disgusting images, yet so few people internalize the photos and ruminate on their impact and importance. Unfortunately, violence is so prominent in society, so there is a large “quantity of images”(Sontag, 102) distributed. This proximity to images of suffering results in a sense of helplessness and a loss of compassion. The repulsive images attract a certain dark side of humanity, exposing that humans are drawn toward distorted images. Maybe people enjoy looking at suffering because it shows a positive contrast between a painful life and the relatively pleasant life they may live. People often ignore the suffering of those close to them because it is difficult to deal with intense pain (Sontag, 99) and compassion is “an unstable emotion”(Sontag, 101). Thus, these impactful images often only result in an “initial spark”(Sontag, 103) instead of a continual desire to help.

The influx of distressing and repugnant images distributed in society leads to an apathetic response in observers.

Chapter 8:

Chapter 8 focuses on the struggle of remembering versus forgetting horrific images and occurrences. Many disturbing images innately communicate the message: “Don’t forget”(Sontag, 115). However, Sontag emphasizes the importance of thinking about images rather than merely remembering them. Society often associates proper morals with remembering abominable events and forgetting these events as unethical behavior. But simply recalling an image or event does nothing to explore why the event occurred, why it was significant, what can be learned from it, and why it should be remembered. Soley watching an event or seeing an image is different than interpreting and internalizing it. Sometimes, people need to stand “back and think”(Sontag, 118) instead of jumping to conclusions about these images.

Memory of certain events or disturbing pictures is only important and useful if the observer takes the time to investigate the causes and effects of the actual image and uses this newfound knowledge to influence change.