Baristas Gone Wild

Lacey, WA–

The River Ridge High School handbook states that students may not wear clothing that is “sexually suggestive,” that clothing must cover stomachs, backs, shoulders, chests and undergarments, and shorts skirts and dresses must be below mid-thigh. Students who do not follow these guidelines are asked to change, cover up, or even go home. However, across the street, students are exposed to “Body Shots” café, featuring girls that don’t exactly follow the same rules.

Lacey, Washington is no exception when it comes to the new “sexpresso” craze popping up around the state. With baristas often working in less than spankies and small tank-tops, some question if the establishments are taking it too far by locating themselves next to schools.

“As a parent, I have some concerns about the placement of these businesses,” stated Courtney Shrieve, Director of Communications for the Thurston County School District. Shrieve noticed a bikini coffee stand near Lacey Elementary School when she started driving her child to school in the morning.

Apparently, no official complaints have been made by parents to River Ridge High School or Lacey Elementary School faculty.

“At this point, we haven’t had parents make any comments about the coffee stand,” Principal Intern Jennifer Trinidad of Lacey Elementary stated. A similar comment was made by Shrieve in regards to River Ridge. It seems that most people don’t even realize the coffee shops are there.

“At first I thought [Body Shots] was just a normal coffee stand,” stated local resident Rebekah-Mae Bruins. “Then I noticed the name, and saw that, every time I drove by, it was men going through the drive-thru. I even saw a garbage truck go through there.”

“Body Shots” barista Alyssa Henkins didn’t deny that older males were there main demographic. “We get a lot of men in big trucks,” she stated. “We actually get more girls from the high school than boys because we are the closest coffee stand. The high school boys are actually more timid and shy. Of course, you will get the occasional ones that will come through and just ask for water.”

Many, though, don’t leave without leaving a big tip. “You can walk away with $100 a day,” Henkins explained. But that kind of money comes with a price.

“A girl just quit because a group was about to rob us. They saw our cameras and drove off, but it really scared her,” Henkins explained. The girls do feel more exposed to danger. “It has become a trend to rob coffee shops. There have been over twenty last month in just the Seattle/Tacoma area,” she described. Burglars aren’t dumb; they realize how much money these girls collect in a day’s work.

Not only do thieves pose a problem, but stalkers have become an issue as well. “I just started working here last October, and I have already had to deal with a guy who harassed me about going out with him,” Henkins said. “I hadn’t learned the rules of the business, yet, so it was really awkward and uncomfortable for me. You have to be able to just say, ‘No, get out of here’.”

She described instances when some regular customers become angry after a holiday where the girls dress down for the occasion, often saying rude comments when the girls go back to their normal tank-tops and short shorts.

And, although the Baristas working at these stands haven’t had to deal with complaints from neighboring schools, they do have to learn to deal with protests from some female customers that pass through.

“One lady came through, scolding us for exposing our body to men. We just say, ‘Hey, if you aren’t getting coffee, then move along,’” Barista explained. “I made the choice to work here, and I love my job.”

It isn’t illegal for women over 18 to expose their bodies to men in their profession. There is also no law stating that businesses such as these cannot establish themselves close to schools. However, some may question the influence these businesses have on the community based on their choice of location. So far, there hasn’t been too much objection.

March 2009

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Cleopatra’s Androgynous Nature: The Combination of Feminine, Natural Love and Masculine Passion

Cleopatra embodies a combination of different traits of masculinity and femininity. She is the quintessential nurturing woman who has several masculine traits (Verma 838). Benjamin T. Spencer describes Cleopatra’s paradoxical charm: “She defies the withering process of age; she makes her victims hungrier even as she satisfies their appetites; her very wantonness is so becoming that it is blessed by the holy priests” (375). Her traits of both motherly, natural love and masculine, lustful passion in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra are demonstrated through the contrast between Cleopatra’s masculine obsession with status and war and her natural feminine and motherly attributes. Both her masculinity and femininity unite in her death. These traits can be seen by studying Cleopatra’s discussions with her ladies, the messenger, and the clown in Acts one through five, as well as from the effects that her masculinity and femininity have on Antony by looking at Caesar, Philo, and Pompey’s descriptions and criticisms of him in Acts one and two. The unification of both Cleopatra’s masculine and feminine traits are seen in Cleopatra’s suicide in Act five.

Neither Antony nor Cleopatra was willing to give up their masculine political status for their love of each other, because without it, they would have been seen as lesser in the others’ eyes. Unlike a modern love story in which the tragedy would probably be the inability of the lovers to find what they were looking for in each other, Shakespeare’s lovers need status and honor in order to maintain value to each other (Moore 652). Cleopatra’s masculine nobility (most rulers were men during 30 B.C.) impresses Antony, while her feminine seduction seals the deal. John Rees Moore explains that “the masculine world [of Antony and Cleopatra] is essentially loveless: men struggle for power either by force or trickery, and no one is to be trusted” (648). As a woman, Cleopatra has established herself as the ruler of Egypt, using manipulation to get her way and by not trusting anyone, not even Antony. She tells Charmian in Act I, scene three: “See where [Antony] is, who’s with him, what he does./ I did not send you: if you find him sad,/ Say I am dancing, if in mirth, report/ That I am sudden sick” (3-7).1 Cleopatra’s technique to captivating Antony is to manipulate—she dances when he is sad, and fakes illness when he is happy. However, Antony also has power over Cleopatra. During his return to Rome, she is overtaken with jealousy. She must know all the details about Octavia to make sure that she herself is still higher in status: “Report the feature of Octavia: her years,/ Her inclination, let him not leave out/ The colour of her hair… Bring me word how tall she is” (II.v.135-141). Cleopatra demands that she know Octavia’s age, her will with Antony, as well as word of her beauty. Cleopatra’s insecurities show that she truly doesn’t trust anyone, showing her embodiment of the “masculine world” where one with power must be apprehensive of others.  

Cleopatra’s masculinity is the cause of Antony’s shift from his passion of war to his passion of Cleopatra. In Roman society, women were out of sight and out of mind as soon as more important things, such as war, arose. However, love and war, though opposed to each other, are much alike. Moore says, “Both demand an inspired commitment that goes beyond rational calculation, a warm impulsiveness that indeed scorns and laughs at the cautious warnings of ‘policy’” (648). These similarities of irrationality and impulsiveness of war and passion must have attracted Antony to Cleopatra as we come to understand Antony’s original passion for battle. Ironically, their sexual and dynastic union even lead to war (Streete 423). Philo describes Antony’s shift in the first lines of Act one, scene one:

This dotage of our general’s

O’erflows the measure: those his goodly eyes,

That o’er the files and musters of the war

Have glowed like plated Mars, now bend, now turn

The office and devotion of their view

Upon a tawny front. His captain’s heart,

Which in the scuffles of great fights hath burst

The buckles on his breast, reneges all temper

And is become the bellows and the fan

To cool a gipsy’s lust. (1-10)

 In Roman context, the word “heart” refers to manly courage, but for Egyptians, “heart” is understood as the “seat of love or affection” (Hall 64). Antony’s foolish Egyptian affection overflows what is acceptable in Roman terms—Antony’s vision that was once set on war and glowed from the reflection of the armor of his men has skewed to look upon Cleopatra. The masculine courage of Antony’s performance in battle, reinforced with Philo’s use of the words “buckles” and “burst,” is now degenerating as his heart is downgraded to an appliance to cool and inflame Cleopatra’s passions (64). Antony and Cleopatra’s love affair, dismissed as merely lust, is granted no real status by the Romans. Joan Hall says, “In the Roman scheme of things, ‘heart’ serves military or political ends, and great leaders must not, as Octavius Caesar so pragmatically observes, ‘pawn their experience to their present pleasure’ (I.iv.32)” (64). The military idea of “heart,” or leadership, must supersede the Egyptian ideal of “heart,” or emotional and sexual ties to a woman (65). However, the Romans are unable to understand Cleopatra’s passion as it relates to war, and why Antony is drawn to her: “Her ability to subdue the stoutest warrior to her ends is an Eastern corruption that threatens the Western ideal of imperial manhood” (Moore 648). The Roman characters, who are conditioned to a firm, legalistic, and rational world, are confounded by the mysterious Egyptian (Spencer 374). Cleopatra’s combination of femininity and masculinity intimidates them.

Though Cleopatra’s masculinity is threatening to the Roman idea of manhood, Cleopatra also demonstrates her natural urge of motherliness as a woman, and her natural love carries over to her relationship with Antony. When Pompey speaks of plucking the “ne’er-lust-wearied Antony” from the “lap of Egypt’s widow” (II.ii.43-44), he means that separating Antony from Cleopatra is like weaning a child away from the lap of his mother (Verma 846). Associations with mother and child are also present in Antony’s speech to her after following her ship in the battle of Actium:

Egypt, thou knew’st too well

My heart was to the rudder tied by th’strings

And thou shouldst tow me after. O’er my spirit

Thy full supremacy thou knew’st, and that

Thy beck might from the bidding of the gods

Command me. (III.xii.60-65)

  Antony’s mind was reduced to that of a child blindly following his mother. He had given up all of what he knew of masculine battle to follow Cleopatra, no matter what the consequences. The mother-son relationship is also seen when Antony is under the impression that Cleopatra betrayed him in battle in Act four (Verma 846). Antony seems to experience his own loss of identity due to Cleopatra’s unpredictability. He panics, saying that he “cannot hold [his] visible shape” (IV.xiv.17). He is dissolving, discandying as if it were the end of the world (Streete 424). Cleopatra’s behavior threatens to destroy Antony’s inner certainty as he feels that he cannot be strong without her (Verma 846). However, after this brief moment of panic over this loss of natural love, his certainty is restored by the knowledge that Cleopatra has not strayed from him, and he is able to retain his basic trust in life (846). In the end, he attempted to die an honorable Roman death, but could not succeed without ending his life near Cleopatra, his source of both natural, feminine love, and masculine passion.

Like Antony, Cleopatra also dies a masculine, honorable death, but does so in a feminine way in which both traits are unified in her suicide. Her masculinity and femininity fluctuate back and forth, one after the other until her final moment of death in which they are fused. One of her reasons for wanting to commit suicide is so that she will be remembered in a noble way, not captivated in Caesar’s victory march. She explains to her ladies, “The quick comedians/ Extemporally will stage us and present/ Our Alexandrian revels: Antony/ Shall be brought drunken forth, and I shall see/ Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness/ I’th’posture of a whore” (V.ii.256-261). Cleopatra wanted to keep her status after her death, and was afraid that if she was to be captured by Caesar, she would be later imitated by young boys that could do no justice to both her masculine power as a ruler and her feminine beauty in portraying her as a prostitute. In Act four, Cleopatra resolved to end her life in the high Roman fashion to keep her status and honor, yet confesses herself to be but “e’en a woman” like “the maid that milks/ And does the meanest chares” (IV.xv.86-87). However, though she spoke of herself as merely a woman in Act four, in Act five her masculinity resurfaces as she tells the guardsman, “I have nothing/ Of woman in me: now from head to foot/ I am marble-constant” (V.ii.282-284). She says that she has not the “fluctuating traits” of a female at all, but is “marble-constant,” a Roman way of perceiving themselves: hard and solid like a statue or building (Crane 7).2 But then, in her final moment of death, her masculine and feminine sides both surface together as she dies proudly like a Roman, yet like a queen in royal robes (Spencer 377).  

The way in which Cleopatra commits suicide connects both traits of both sexuality and natural love. The entire event of her suicide is erotic from the time the clown introduces the asps until after her death.  She speaks numerous puns on the words “lie,” “die” and “honest” in her discussion with the clown about the snakes in Act five, scene two that justifies regarding the worm as a symbol of sexual relations (294-314) (Hymel 2). The clown makes a sexual reference to a woman as “a dish for the gods if the devil dress her not,” also referencing the snake as “joy” and a “worm” that have phallic undertones (295-313) (Kinghorn 107). The juxtaposition of the snake and fig is another example, as The Sacred Fig Tree was held in special veneration as an emblem of life—combining both masculine and feminine attributes. It has three leaves, representing the masculine triad, which became symbolic in covering sculptured representations of nude figures, while the fruit represented the female counterpart (107).4 Cleopatra also likens the “stroke of death” to “a lover’s pinch/ Which hurts and is desired,” which contains sexual undertones with the word “stroke,” “pinch” and “desire” (V.ii.331-332). Also, the clown says that the same snake that has “very good report” and is expected to bring “joy” is “not to be trusted but in the keeping of wise people,” also possessing “no goodness” (290-315). These descriptions of the asp define the very idea of Cleopatra to the Romans, as they believed her to be untrustworthy and corrupting of Antony’s Roman masculinity (Hymel 2-3). Keeping this in mind, the asp represents Antony himself, and in nursing the asp, Cleopatra shows her motherly, natural love for him as she follows him into the next realm. However, she places the next asp to her arm to complete her suicide, a body part that represents strength and masculinity. In her death, both ideas of her feminine and masculine traits are brought together. Even Caesar acknowledges the power and poetry in Cleopatra’s androgynous death:  “she looks like sleep,/ As she would catch another Antony/ In her strong toil of grace” (V.ii.395-397). She achieved a death that left her still looking feminine and desirable as Caesar comments that the dead Cleopatra looks only asleep, and like she could still arouse male desire (Kinghorn 106). She has died a noble, Roman, masculine death, but has done it in such a way as to keep her feminine beauty.

Cleopatra’s androgynous traits of both motherly, natural love and masculine passion are present throughout Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, eventually brought together in her poetic Roman and queenly death. She loved Antony with both natural love and passion, the reason for which he was first attracted and remained infatuated. Her love reminded him of his previous passion—war—while their love both started war, and ended it.  John Reese Moore says, “When you die you die. That’s all right as long as you’ve lived first—and living means using everything you’ve got to the fullest” (665). Cleopatra gave all of herself to Antony and was able to save her masculine honor by killing herself by Roman means, ultimately enabling her to die for the most Egyptian and feminine motive—love.

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Dante’s Use of St. Bernard’s Contemplative Process in The Divine Comedy

The Christian life is the soul’s continuing attempt to restore its lost likeness to God. According to St. Bernard of Clairvaux1, the last guide to Dante Alighieri in his journey through The Divine Comedy, this is a process that can only be completed perfectly by the vision of God. Bernard stands as a symbol at the end of the Comedy, the figure who believed in the doctrine and theology of contemplation that is the structure of the poem. Bernard declared that both knowledge and love were necessary components in a union with God, and one must go through a process of contemplation to get there. Bernard’s contemplative process progresses in that one progresses from first loving himself for his own sake to, for his own sake, loving God; then one comes to love God for God’s sake, and in the final stage, he comes to love himself only for God’s sake. Evidence of Bernard’s process is most apparent in his description of the beginning of his journey in Canto I, his contact with Piero Della Vigna in Canto XIII of Inferno, his entry into Purgatorio proper in Canto IX, his experience with the prideful in Canto X through Canto XIII of Purgatorio, his encounter with Cunizza de Romano in Canto IX of Paradiso, and finally, in Dante’s final realization and fulfillment, his perception of God in Canto XXX of Paradiso. Dante uses Bernard’s contemplative process within his journey through The Divine Comedy in order to demonstrate how Christians must restore their likeness to God, to show us the difference between hellish pride and heavenly pride, and to explain that the only way to God is through both the intellect and love.

Dante held that God must be seen intellectually before he could be perfectly loved, and to do this, one must be willing to understand Him. Bernard believed that without knowledge, the soul would have nothing to love (Kay 190). This is because, when seeing the vision of God, both are brought together by the act of grace (190). With this grace, the soul is united with God, its original likeness, for He is the Creator. After the fall of Adam and Eve, man only holds the potential for goodness, therefore losing one’s likeness to God. The soul searches for God because God created it, and creations always reach back to their creator. However, in order to reach this understanding of God, one must be willing to go on one’s own journey to gain the knowledge necessary to find Him. Throughout each Canto of Dante’s journey, he comes to understand the Divine through his guides and the souls he meets along the way. In the end, according to Bernard and Dante, it is this knowledge of God that allows the soul to know God when it feels Him.

In the beginning of The Divine Comedy, Dante loves himself for his own sake, the lowest step of the contemplative process. It is because of Dante’s perverse love that Beatrice2 intervened, insisting that he go on his Divine journey. It was also because of his earthly love for Beatrice that he was willing to go on the quest. It was not until later that Dante developed the will to find God on his own, a component of Bernard’s contemplative process. Nasti explains, “Those who, as a result of Divine grace, are completely aflame with charity, can enjoy the attention of the lover, and become, according to Bernard, worthy of His greatness” (217). In order to be one with God, we must not only be willing to seek him out, but also to practice charity, to do good in the world, in order to be worthy of receiving Him. In the first Canto of Inferno, Dante described himself: “When I had journeyed half of our life’s way, I found myself within a shadowed forest, for I had lost the path that does not stray” (Inf. I 1-3).  Dante had lost his will to follow God on the true path. Also, Dante opens the Comedy using the pronoun our to refer to all of us that have strayed as he had. Dante relates himself to all of us, for like the world, he had fallen in love with earthly goods instead of focusing his love towards God.

In his journey through Inferno, Dante the Pilgrim discovers what it is to have hellish pride, and begins to realize that he, too, holds those characteristics. Dante meets Piero Della Vigna4 in Canto XIII, where Nessus5  leads Dante and Virgil6 to a forest:

            Nessus had not yet reached the other bank

            when we began to make our way across

            a wood on which no path had left its mark.

            No green leaves in that forest, only black;

            no branches straight and smooth, but knotted, gnarled;

            no fruits were there, but briers bearing poison. (1-6)
 The description of the forest as being black, knotted, gnarled and bare is extremely similar to the shadowed, savage, dense and difficult forest that Dante originally found himself when he strayed off his path in the beginning of the Comedy: “Ah, it is hard to speak of what it was, that savage forest, dense and difficult” (Inf. I 4-6). In the Canto XIII forest, they made their way across a wood on which no path had left its mark, therefore representing a wrong path (as there is no right path in the Inferno), as the one that Dante had originally lost himself. Here we begin to see the similarities between this particular Canto and Dante’s journey. Then, Dante meets Piero Della Vigna, who, like Dante, was a literarily skilled intellectual and served at a high political level (Yearley 325). He was falsely charged in his life and was imprisoned (like Dante, exiled from his community), but responded by committing suicide (325). Piero’s life is a shadow of Dante’s life, and Dante begins to see that he was travelling down a similar path until Beatrice intervened. Piero views his own story as a tragedy, swearing his innocence and begging Dante to clear his name on earth when Dante returns (Inf. XIII 73-78). Dante responds by saying to Virgil, “Do you continue; ask of him whatever you believe I should request; I cannot, so much pity takes my heart” (Inf. XIII 82-84). Dante pities Piero because they are so similar, because he knows the pains that Piero has gone through by being exiled and cast away. Yearley explains, “The depiction of Peiro’s case highlights how the most critical part of the description of Piero’s suicide is his pridefulness” (327). By seeing Piero, a man that resembles Dante suffering in the Inferno, Dante begins to realize that if he remains on the strayed path, prideful and loving himself for his own sake, that he will suffer the same fate.

By witnessing all of the pain and anguish in Inferno, Dante advances towards God and to the second stage of Bernard’s contemplation process, beginning to love God for Dante’s own sake in order to make sure that he does not end up in the Inferno in his next life. It is only with this advancement in knowledge from those he learned from in the Inferno that Dante is able to advance to Purgatory7. Dante encounters the stairs he must take in order to enter through the door to Purgatory proper. The first step he must take in order to enter the gate of Purgatory represents the ascent to a higher moral state: “There we approached, and the first step was white marble, so polished and so clear that I was mirrored there as I appear in life” (Purg. IX 94-96). It is when he sees himself mirrored as he appears in life that he gains self-knowledge, leading to the second step, recognizing his sins: “The second step, made out of crumbling rock, rough-textured, scorched, with cracks that ran across its length and width, was darker than deep purple” (97-99). By recognizing his sins, represented by the rough, scorched cracks that run across the step, he loses his hellish pride in himself. The last step that Dante takes is described: “The third, resting above more massively, appeared to me to be of porphyry, as flaming red as blood that spurts from veins” (100-102).  The colors of the three steps – white, darker than deep purple (black), and red – mirror the history of salvation, beginning at the Incarnation to the fall of man, and then to redemption (Treherne 190). It moves from innocence to sin and back again, showing how we lost our likeness to God after the Original Sin, and now we must be willing to climb back to our Creator to become more like Him. It is on the last step that Dante reveals, “Upon my forehead, [angel doorkeeper of Purgatory8] traced seven P’s9 with his sword’s point and said: ‘When you have entered within, take care to wash away these wounds’” (Purg. IX 112-114). The P’s are carved into his forehead, his flesh, physically representing the wounds of sin that will be washed away in death, mirroring Christ’s crucifixion. The P’s are the bodily representation of Dante’s elimination of selfishness and progression to the third step in the contemplative process as he climbs closer to The Earthly Paradise10 and, therefore, closer to God (Nohrnberg 14). Dante willingly shows his desire to eliminate the sin he carries in Purgatory, the first steps in his willingness to seek God for God’s sake.

Now that Dante has begun the third stage of Bernard’s contemplative process, he enters the first terrace of the prideful, the place in which he regretfully believes he will begin his journey in the afterlife. In Canto X, the prideful are described as being punished by bearing the weight of heavy stones, a sentence for being bowed down by the weight of their arrogance and perverse love of earthly beauties. After learning from these souls, Dante realizes that being wordly renown is “nothing other than a breath of wind that blows now here, now there, and changes name when it has changed its course” (Purg. XI 100-102). He now understands that being famous is not important, it is nothing, for after we have passed on, another name will become more renown. However, Dante acknowledges that he has lived many years with this conceit, and knows he will have to pay for that time in Purgatory after his death. It is again in the thirteenth Canto where Dante reveals that he fears punishment for his prideful ways: “I fear much more the punishment below; my soul is anxious, in suspense; already I feel the heavy weights of the first terrace” (Purg. XIII 136-138). Previously, it was in the thirteenth Canto of Inferno in talking to Piero Della Vigna where Dante first realized that his un-repented pride was his biggest sin, and it is now in the thirteenth Canto of Purgatorio that he completely acknowledges it. However, on each terrace of Purgatory, there is a positive example of the virtue which corrects the sin, always taken from an episode of the life of Mary (to whom Bernard devotes himself). On the terrace of pride, this positive example is the Annunciation11. Treherne illustrates, “In the light of the Incarnation, summed up by the Annunciation carving, the carvings suggest birth, death (in the humility of the Crucifixion, prefigured by David’s dance), and the resurrection” (190). This image suggests the humility in Christ-like submission, ultimately suggesting that this submission can lead to rebirth (190). Dante is adopting humility as he witnesses the prideful, and the image gives him hope that he can be reborn on earth. As Dante climbs Purgatorio, increasing his intellect and erasing more of his sins, his anticipation and willingness to see the Divine grows.

Dante remains in the third step of the contemplative process, the love of God for God’s sake, through the rest of his climb in Purgatorio and even through his ascent into Paradiso. As Dante climbs the mountain of Purgatory, he becomes lighter the higher he gets, with the more knowledge and anticipation towards the Divine. His connection between wisdom and love become stronger as he ascends (Nasti 212). Dante’s ability to understand the Divine becomes even greater as he reaches The Earthly Paradise and finally meets Beatrice. In first seeing Beatrice, he could not look directly at her: “Still, though my soul, now she was veiled, could not see her directly, by way of hidden force that she could move, I felt the mighty power of old love” (Purg. XXX 36-39). Dante could not look at Beatrice directly because he is still impure, proving this in saying that he felt the mighty power of old love, earthly love, not heavenly love. To see Beatrice clearly, Dante must gain more knowledge about Divine love, and transform his view of Beatrice as he must also do to see God more clearly. But in their reunion, Beatrice begins to scold Dante: “Look here! For I am Beatrice, I am!” (72) The two I ams resound with God’s self-declaration to Moses in the mount12 (Nohrnberg 15). Beatrice begins to correct the sinful Dante, but not without first giving her name, just as God did to Moses (17). Beatrice is a symbol God, as Dante must learn how to love both of them in an un-earthly way. She rebukes, “when from flesh to spirit, I had risen, and my goodness and my beauty had grown, I was less dear to him, less welcome: he turned his footsteps toward an untrue path” (127-130). When Beatrice passed on into heaven and closer to God, Dante, instead of following her beauty to the Divine, strayed from her, falling onto the untrue path: the perverse love of earthly beauty and pride. By abandoning Beatrice, Dante therefore abandoned God. Beatrice demonstrates this by imitating Him in repeating the booming I ams, for she not only speaks for herself, but on the behalf of God.

As Dante ascends through the spheres of Paradiso, his Divine knowledge continues to expand as he encounters the souls in each heavenly sphere, and especially, Venus. Tambling argues, “The fault of the ancients is that of naming and therefore reifying an emotional state by an allegorical name, and then to ascribe the aspect of subject’s self-division—its possession by mad love—to an allegorized star” (95). The problem with this argument, though, is that the women in Venus are not possessed by mad love in heaven, but pose as an example of people who  possessed mad love in their earthly lives, but then, before death, transformed their sexual love towards man into heavenly love towards God. Tambling goes on to say that “Paradiso necessarily subjects souls to the dominance of a planet, and thus names and inscribes the character of the souls as if they were controlled by something outside them, as though bringing back allegory itself” (95). Tambler fails to remember that in the real heaven, these souls are not separated by planets, but exist all together. The reason for their separation is only to assist Dante’s intellectual understanding of the Divine:

            But all those souls [in Paradiso] grace the Empyrean13;

            and each of them has gentle life—though some

            sense the Eternal Spirit more, some less. (Par. IV 33-35)

            Such signs are suited to your mind, since from

            the senses only can it apprehend

            what then becomes fit for the intellect. (IV 40-42)

Each soul in Paradiso is perfectly happy according to their capacity to receive and enjoy the beauty of God. All of the souls exist in the Empyrean, but are separated only so that Dante can comprehend the souls within his mortal mind. Each soul only exists on a planet for Dante’s benefit, not because they are subjects to the dominance of a planet. They are not subject to planets as all, for they do not truly exist there.

Dante finds the example of good, heavenly pride in Paradiso when he meets Cunizza de Romano14 in Canto IX, the introduction of the final stage in the contemplative process, loving oneself for God’s sake. Cunizza, having had many husbands and lovers in her life on earth, comes at first as a surprise to many as she is found in Paradiso. However, she represents a woman who was able to not only ask for God’s forgiveness for her actions at the end of her earthly life, but was able to pardon herself as well. Yearley explains, “We see in [Cunizza] all the marks of good pride, of the integrity that comes from a well-understood and appreciated identity: she loves herself as well as others…she is self-understanding, and thus also to understanding of others” (332-333). Most people don’t understand this concept immediately as they come upon her example, for a feature of pride’s effect is to destroy the ability to pardon oneself (333). Also, Cunizza mixes her pardoning of herself with the pride of acknowledging who she was, and not completely giving up who she was, something that we had not previously seen in The Divine Comedy. The souls in the Inferno, such as Paolo and Francesca16, forgot or overlooked their past failures: “There is no greater sorrow than thinking back upon a happy time in misery” (Inf. V 121-123). Francesca still looks at her mistakes as a happy time that she does not regret, while also looking at her past as miserable. She does not accept her flaws as Cunizza did in her former affairs, and therefore could not have been admitted to either Purgatorio or Paradiso. The souls in Purgatorio, such as Oderisi of Gubbio17, believed that the punishment is necessary the sins they committed in their earthly lives: “For such pride, here one pays the penalty; and I’d not be here yet, had it not been that, while I still could sin, I turned to Him” (Purg. XI 88-90). If souls like Oderisi had been able to forgive themselves of their sins instead of only asking for God’s forgiveness they would not need to be punished for their sins in the afterlife, they would have already made it to Paradiso.

The ability to pardon oneself described in Paradiso demands two things: a realistic perspective on the character of one’s past actions and a full-blooded attatchment to a genuine, pleasure giving goal (Yearley 333). Cunizza represents both of these attributes that are needed in order to overcome the manifestations of pride. In opposition, Tambling argues that Cunizza is still possessed by the erotic love she had in her earthly life (98). If this were to be true, Cunizza would not be in the heavenly realm in Paradiso, but back in the fifth Canto of Inferno15. He defends his argument in stating when Cunizza says, “I was overcome by the light of this star” (IX 33). He states that the “I” that was overcome was her rationality, and that what overcame her was “everything of the erotic” (Tambling 98). He argues that the light is erotic, that the shining is excess produced by the sexual (98). However, throughout Paradiso, the light continues to become brighter as Dante gets closer to God. If the light is shining brighter near God, then how could this represent an erotic, sexual love? It could not, for this is the earthly type of love. The light throughout Paradiso represents Divine love.  It is true that Cunizza is not one we immediately expect to find in Paradiso, but she represents the heavenly pride in oneself: the ability to forgive ourselves as well as asking forgiveness from God.

After the example of heavenly pride is given by Cunizza, Dante finally reaches the last stage of the contemplative process in the last Canto of The Divine Comedy. Beatrice leads Dante to St. Bernard, for her part in leading Dante to the Empyrean has been completed. Bernard then prays to Mary, the mother of her own Creator and gateway to Christ, for the ability to let Dante perceive God (Par. XXX 1-39). Then, Dante is finally able to intellectually perceive Him after all he has learned along his journey: “within itself and colored like itself, to me seemed painted with our effigy” (30-31). Dante sees himself and all of us in God, therefore reaching the last stage of the process, loving ourselves for only God’s sake. As he realizes this, his soul becomes united with God: “But then my mind was struck by light that flashed and, with this light, received what it had asked” (140-141). In this moment, Dante understood the mystery of Christ, for he became one with his Creator, the goal of each creation. Both Dante’s intellect and his will (ability to love) are completed in this union, and Bernard’s contemplative process has finally been completed.


  1. St. Bernard of Clairvaux was abbot of Clairvaux in Burgandy, a theologian who is associated with devotion to Mary and the ascent towards God through contemplation.
  2. Beatrice is a woman Dante was in love with who died at the early age of twenty-four, his poems after her death present her as a blessed soul in Paradise.
  3. Inferno is Hell, divided into two sections: the gate and the nine circles
  4. Pier delle Vigne is a lawyer, poet, and chief minister and secretary to the Emperor Frederick II, king of Sicily. After falling out of the emperor’s favor, he was blinded and put in prison. He committed suicide there by hitting his head against the wall.
  5. Nessus is a centaur who tried to rape Deianira, killed by her husband, Hercules. He left his shirt, soaked in his poisonous blood, to Deianira, who later gave it to Hercules as a gift, thus causing Hercules’ death, providing Nessus with his revenge.
  6. Virgil is a classical poet that Dante admired most and is famous for writing the Aeneid. Although he is a Pagan stuck in Limbo, Beatrice chose him to guide Dante through Inferno and Purgatory.
  7. Purgatory is the second realm in Dante’s afterlife where souls who did not perform acts of penance in their lives willfully perform their penances after death. It is divided into three sections: Antepurgatory, where souls wait to become admitted to Purgatory proper, the seven terraces of the punishments of Purgatory, and last, the Garden of Eden.
  8. The angel doorkeeper to Purgatory holds St. Peter’s keys to the door to Purgatory
  9. The Seven P’s represent the Seven Deadly Sins which are healed through the terraces of Purgatory. The letter P stands for “Peccatum,” meaning sin, and “Poena,” meaning the debt of punishment which remains after repentance and must be paid off in Purgatory.
  10. The Earthly Paradise is the Garden of Eden at the Summit of Purgatory.
  11. The Annunciation is the revelation to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the Son of God.
  12. Paradiso is the nine celestial spheres of Heaven.
  13. Moses in the mount is the moment when God tells Moses that he must lead the Jews from Egypt (Exodus 6:2)
  14. The Empyrean is the highest Heaven where God is immediately present.
  15. Cunizza da Romano left her husband and eloped with Sordello, a troubadour. She then had another affair and two more marriages, she turned to God in her old age, representing someone who turned her ability to love from sexual love to Godly love.
  16. Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta are punished together in hell for their adultery. Francesca was married to Paolo’s brother, Gianciotto, and had an affair with Paolo. Gianciotto caught them together one day in Francesca’s bedroom, and when Gianciotto lunged at Paolo with his sword, Francesca jumped between them and was killed instead. Gianciotto then killed Paolo, and they were buried in one grave.
  17. Oderisi of Gubbio was an artist who painted was brought to Rome in 1295 by Pope Boniface VIII to illuminate manuscripts in the papal library.
  18. Canto V of Inferno is the circle of lust, where famous lovers such as Semiramis (slept with and killed her lovers), Cleopatra (Queen of Egypt and lover to Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, committing suicide after not being able to win over Octavian), Helen (wife of king of Sparta and abducted by Paris, causing a ten-year war against Troy), and Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta are punished.

 Works Cited

Bemrose, Stephen. “God so Loves the Soul: Intellections of Immortality in Dante.” Medium Aevum 74.1 (2005): 86-108. Academic Search Premier. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 3 Apr. 2009 <http://web.ebscohost.come/ehost/>

Kay, Richard. “Dante in Ecstasy: Paradiso 33 and Bernard of Clairvaux.” Medieval Studies 66.1 (2004): 183-212. Academic Search Premier. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 3 Apr. 2009 <>

Mazzeo, John. “Dante’s Sun Symbolism.” Italica 33.4 (1956): 243-251. JSTOR. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 12 Apr. 2009 <>

Nasti, Paola. “Of this World and the Other: Caritas-Ecclesiology in Dante’s Paradiso.” Italianist 27.2 (2007): 206-232. Academic Search Premier. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 3 Apr. 2009 <>

Nohrnberg, James. “The Autobiographical Imperative and the Necessity of Dante: Purgatorio 30.” Modern Philology 101.1 (2003): 1-47. Academic Search Premier. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 3 Apr. 2009 <>

Shankland, Hugh. “Dante ‘Aliger.’” The Modern Language Review 70.4 (1975): 765-785. JSTOR. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 12 Apr. 2009 <>

Stambler, Bernard. “The Confrontation of Beatrice and Dante: Purgatorio XXX.” Italica 42.1 (1965): 61-97. JSTOR. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 12 Apr. 2009 <>

 Tambling, Jeremy. “The Violence of Venus: Eroticism in Paradiso.” Romanic Review 90.1 (1999): 93-114. Academic Search Premier. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 3 Apr. 2009 <>

Treherne, Matthew. “Ekphrasis and Eucharist: The Poetics of Seeing God’s Art in Purgatorio 10.” Italianist 26.2 (2006): 177-196. Academic Search Premier. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library. 3 Apr. 2009 <>

Yearley, Lee H. “Genre and the Attempt to Render Pride: Dante and Aquinas.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 72.2 (2004): 313-339. Academic Search Premier. Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library 3 Apr. 2009 <>

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Getting to the Top: The Split of Identity in Capitalistic Society

Identity is defined as the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time and sometimes disturbed in mental illnesses, as schizophrenia. What the dictionary doesn’t say is that it can be disturbed by more than just mental illnesses— it can be destroyed by the society that surrounds it. Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, written in 1982, represents her comments of the difference between the feminist movements in the U.S. and Britain during the 1980s. David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross was written close to the same time in 1984. Both playwrights answer the same question of what it takes for one to get to the top in a capitalistic culture. By examining the language used as each scene progresses in Top Girls and studying the dialogue between Roma/Lingk and Roma/Aaronow in Glengarry Glen Ross, it can be interpreted that the characters struggle with an underlying alternate identity which is surfacing and competing with their current one. This struggle for balance explains their hypocrisy and confusion throughout the plays.

Throughout the first scene of Top Girls, Churchill gives examples of sacrifices that women have made to be successful in a capitalistic culture, which eventually leads Marlene to confusion about her own personal values. Marlene is dining with a group of women who have all took on masculine positions in order to overcome hardships. Marlene sees herself as part of this continuation of history. Marlene and the waitress are the only contemporary characters in the first scene while the others are historical. Each woman has a remarkable story that seems to confirm her position as a “top girl,” yet as their stories are told, we come to see that they “have made obvious and often extreme concessions to their various patriarchies, against which they utter no word of condemnation or complaint” (Bazin 121). Each woman has suffered a great deal to be at the “top.” For example, Lady Nijo believes that it was normal for the Emperor to have raped her when she was fourteen because, as she explains, “I belonged to him, it was what I was brought up for from a baby” (Jacobus 1425). When Marlene questioned Griselda about her emotional torture when married to Walter, the Marquis, Griselda defends him: “Marlene, you’re always so critical of him. Of course he was normal, he was very kind.” Marlene responded, “But Griselda, come on, he took your baby.” However, Griselda insisted, “Walter found it hard to believe I loved him. He couldn’t believe I would always obey him. He had to prove it . . . . I’m sure he loved me” (Churchill 1431-1432). These women both made excuses for the men who had treated them badly because they were convinced that this was normal and acceptable behavior for a man. Their excuses shadow Marlene’s promotion. Because it was the cultural norm for her to have been oppressed in capitalistic culture as a female, she made excuses for acting cold and uncaring as she became a more masculine female in the workplace. Harry Lane notes, “Marlene’s celebration is based on mystification of the facts: that Marlene’s promotion is in some way the end result of a unified historical process of which all women have been part” (Bazin 121-122).  Marlene brings these historical women together because she believes she has become a part of them, yet she is horrified when they tell their stories. Marlene is on her way to the realization that maybe she doesn’t truly know who she is, after all. Churchill explained in an interview:

I thought we could look at Marlene as a sort of feminist heroine who had done things against extraordinary odds so that we could then have a different attitude to her as the play went on and we begin to question what her values actually are. (Bazin 122)

At first Marlene prides herself in being a part of this extraordinary group of women. Towards the end of this first scene, however, Marlene is shocked because of the horrific sacrifices they had made to succeed, even though Marlene, in her mind, has also made a sacrifice herself. By the end of the restaurant scene, the audience has come to realize how difficult it is for women to succeed in a man’s world, and the extent to which they are pushed to live up to ideological pressures, blinding them to their oppression, which leads to confusion about what their values have become and who they really are.

As Top Girls progresses to the second scene, we see the side of Marlene in the workplace, who, even though she is a successful woman in a capitalistic and male-dominated culture, tries to prevent other women from rising to the top who are not willing to sacrifice their personal identity.  There can only be one Alpha male, and Marlene fights to sustain her superiority. Her domination becomes clear when she is interviewing Jeanine. During this interview, Marlene tries to break her client’s confidence by pretending not to know her name, remarking on the absence of “A levels,” and making it sound like Jeanine’s numerous “O levels” are due to her lack of ambition. She also describes Jeanine’s typing speed as “not brilliant” (Churchill 1435). It is the most evident that Marlene believes Jeanine is not worthy of participating in the workplace when she interprets Jeanine’s desire to marry as a sign that she is not serious about pursuing a career. When Jeanine reveals that she is saving money to get married, Marlene responds that it would probably help her to get the job if she did not tell them about her intentions (1434). By saying this, Marlene is showing that she does not believe that Jeanine can make it in the capitalistic world because her family is of priority. To Marlene, this is a sign of weakness. The reason that Marlene is successful is because “she does not offer women like Jeanine opportunities or prospects” (Bazin 125). At the Top Girls agency, “it is important that the employees, like Marlene, who are willing to make huge personal sacrifices, are given these positions of power because they deal with clients as a man would,” and to be successful in a capitalistic culture is to be masculine (125). It is evident that Marlene believes that there are only two types of women: the ambitious, single, and childless career woman, and those who are married with families. In the first scene, Marlene was so proud that she had become a member of the successful women’s club, yet she will not allow other women to do the same because they are not “worthy.” Angela McRobbie explains:

From being assumed to be headed towards marriage, motherhood and limited economic participation, the girl is now a social category understood primarily as being endowed with economic capacity. . . . They are invited to recognize themselves as privileged subjects of social change. (721)

However, even though women are no longer excluded from the workforce, women are still not considered equal if they do not take this “opportunity.” This “economic capacity” is what has caused Marlene to treat younger women as inferior, and why the younger female clients allow her to do so. Marlene expects these women to put aside their other priorities and recognize the “privilege” they have been given to be allowed into the culture of a man’s business world. The women in the capitalistic society are asked to choose between identities, the businesswoman or the wife, even if they want both. The cultural expectation of having to choose between the two creates an alternate identity that Marlene and these other women struggle with. Because it seems that they cannot have both a family and success, it leads women to regret choosing either, because no matter which identity they choose, they can never have it all.

In Act Two of Top Girls, the audience finds out that it is Angie, the abandoned daughter of Marlene, who is the ultimate cause of Marlene’s alternate identity, as she had made the decision between motherhood and the workplace. Marlene shows no compassion for Angie who was left to be taken care of by Marlene’s sister. However, Marlene contradicts herself in the last act of the play when she visits her sister and daughter, and the confrontation begins as Marlene attempts to establish a relationship with Angie. Marlene defends herself by using her workplace identity. She insists to her sister that, “Anyone can do anything if they’ve got what it takes” (Churchill 1449). Marlene believes that because she has become successful in the workplace as a female, now she can be successful in both roles. The final scene is where her identities struggle to coincide. It becomes apparent that Marlene wishes that she could have both the career and the family, hypocritical of everything she has believed up to this point. When she switches her mindset to her alternate identity, the one she wishes that she could attain, she wants Angie back. She pleads to Joyce:

I know a managing director who’s got two children, she breastfeeds in the board room, she pays a hundred pounds a week on domestic help alone and she can afford that because she’s an extremely high-powered lady earning a great deal of money. (Churchill 1449)

It is obvious that Marlene wishes that she could have raised Angie, yet she also knows that she has already made her choice. Looking back on her decision to leave her daughter, it is natural to wonder how her life would have been if she had stayed. Unfortunately, Marlene is unable to switch completely to the alternate identity of motherhood because she has chosen to adapt to one which permits her to succeed as the “top girl” in a male dominated capitalistic culture. If she wants to remain the dominant Alpha male, she cannot go back.  

Glengarry Glen Ross explores the theme of this masculine role within the male dominated workplace, where men define themselves by their careers and become confused about who they are if they are unsuccessful. Mamet’s additional character, Blake, in the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross, portrays the businessman ideal of how men in a capitalistic agency “should be.”  As he removes a pair of oversized brass balls from his expensive briefcase, holding them in front of his crotch, his message is obvious, “to be a successful salesman, you must have the ‘balls’ to be ruthless, cunning, competitive, and aggressive. Anything less, the character taunts, and you ‘can’t play in a man’s game’” (Greenbaum 34). Mamet uses him as the symbol of economic success, a representation of an Alpha male in the capitalistic business world. As salesmen, their jobs are at stake, and because they define themselves according to their place on the sales board, what transpires is a desperate struggle for these men to retain not simply their sales positions, but their sense of masculine identity. They become their jobs, and similarly to Marlene, are encouraged to give up all other priorities in life, such as a family, in order to compete for the Alpha male position. It seems that to one who desires success, other priorities distract from the competition.  

In Act Two, Roma tells Lingk that he shouldn’t listen to his wife, portraying how women only get in the way of business. He tells Lingk that “You have a contract with your wife. You have certain things you do jointly, you have a bond there . . . and there are other things. Those things are yours. You needn’t feel ashamed, you needn’t feel that you’re being untrue” (Mamet 1499).  Lingk’s marriage is reduced to a mere contract by Roma, “a business transaction—like purchasing real estate; the world outside of this male universe ceases to exist, and when its values do intrude, as in the case of Lingk’s wife, it is viewed with suspicion and disdain” (Greenbaum 36). Feminine values, such as compassion and empathy, endanger the male workplace. Similar to Marlene’s belief about women in Top Girls, there are two different types of men in the world of Glengarry Glen Ross: the real men who are ambitious and successful in the workplace, and men who are “weak” like women, who are considered feminine or homosexual, the men who give into their wives, such as Lingk. To those competing in the workplace, if one is not masculine they are feminine, and a man who is feminine is regarded as homosexual (36). So, the men in Glengarry Glen Ross are forced to adopt this masculine identity in order to survive. Roma has already accepted this masculine identity to succeed, exactly as Marlene had.

But, like Marlene, Roma and the other men at the agency desire a partnership. Roma, the most successful salesman, embodies the idea of individualism as a key part of capitalism. Just as Marlene holds women back to remain successful herself, so each man in Glengarry is only worried about his own success. In the beginning of Act Two when Roma enters the agency and realizes that his contract with Lingk may be gone, he becomes distraught, concerned with his own profits, not the effect the robbery has on the agency. As Aaronow expresses his worries about how he hasn’t even made the board, Roma complains, “All the little [contracts], I have, I have to go back and . . . ah, I got to go out like a schmuck hat in my hand and reclose the . . . ” (Mamet 1490).  Roma wasn’t even listening to what Aaronow was saying, too concerned with his own troubles to care about anyone else’s problems. This is his masculine work identity. Yet, when Levene arrives at the agency, excited about his huge business deal, Roma is excited for his triumph, telling the other men what Levene “The Machine” had done. When Moss replied with “Fuck The Machine,” Roma yelled back, “Your pal closes, all that comes out of your mouth is bile, how fucked up you are. . . .” (1494).  Roma turns into a hypocrite as he suddenly cares about the good of the whole, because just moments before he yells at Moss for only thinking of himself, he had done the same to Aaronow.

Some readers would interpret that Marlene and Roma have all completely lost their identities to the capitalistic ideals of the perfect worker, as they all have rejected any alternative lifestyle that would have room for love, family, compassion, companionship and generosity. Angela McRobbie argues:

Young women [part of gendered axis of social division] are in effect graded and marked according to their ability to gain qualifications which in turn provides them with an identity as female subjects of capacity. The young woman now is normatively in possession of a distinct occupational identity. (Brazin 721)

If Marlene had an absolute, “distinct occupational identity,” then why would she bounce back and forth between not having any compassion for her daughter and then wanting her back a short time later? If she had this occupational identity, and only that identity, she would never regret her decision to give up Angie, yet it is made clear in her argument with Joyce in the last scene that she does have some regret. Aaron also rebuts: “In gaining an alternate identity, [the characters] are definitely losing their old one. Also, since it is impossible to be completely devoid of identity, if their old one is lost, it is a natural progression to achieve a new one.” However, if the characters lost their old identity and developed a new one, that would not be labeled as an “alternate identity.”  It would instead be referred to as the expansion of an already existing one. These characters bounce back and forth between capitalistic expectations and their primal urges for a family—an alternate lifestyle, and because it doesn’t include the workplace, but an alternate self.

Marlene and Roma’s first instincts are to fulfill their identities within the capitalistic workplace, and to do only that which benefit themselves. Yet, as time goes on, we realize that the characters still have the natural desire for partnership, even if it is not coming from a wife or family. The characters of Churchill’s Top Girls and Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross contradict themselves as they switch back and forth between their needs as humans and their craving for success in their business. Because the characters live in a time in society where the culture does not allow the two identities to co-exist, they suffer from a life in which they will never be satisfied.

Works Cited

Bazin, Victoria.  “[Not] Talking ‘Bout My Generation: Historicizing Feminisms in Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls.”  Studies in the Literary Imagination  39.2 (2006): 115-134.  Academic Search Premier.  Saint Martin’s O’Grady Library.  6 Nov. 2008 <>

Greenbaum, Andrea.  “Brass Balls: Masculine Communication and the Discorse of Capitalism in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.”  The Journal of Men’s Studies 8.1 (1999): 33-43.  Academic Search Premier.  Saint Martin’s O’Grady Library.  11 Nov. 2008  <>

McRobbie, Angela.  “Top Girls? Young Women and the Post-Feminist Sexual Contract.”  Cultural Studies 21.4 (2007): 718-737.  Academic Search Premier.  Saint Martin’s University O’Grady Library.  6 Nov. 2008  <>

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Summary of Skills

  • Three years experience in news writing, feature writing, copy editing, and editorial responsibilities
  • Ability to write accurately and effectively about a wide range of subject matter
  • Skilled in interviewing, research, and working with writers

July 2011 – Present                Intern, Alaska/Horizon Air Magazines, Paradigm  Communications Group

  • Work closely with editors and to learn about all phases of magazine publishing.
  • Research story concepts, conduct interviews and write articles as well as fact check, help with special sections, develop event calendars and write sidebars for larger stories.
  • Assist with editorial research and art queries and perform some general office tasks.

June 2011 – Present                Intern, The Bicycle Paper, Seattle Publishing

  • Work with clients, with other staff members and freelancers, research, write, proofread, help select photographs and prepares files for production.
  • Gain experience with Filemaker Pro and post news to website.

May 2008– May 2011             News Editor (08-09), Co Editor-in-Chief (09), Editor-in-Chief (09-11), The Belltower, Saint Martin’s University

  • Responsible for content, production, planning and coordination.
  • Edited stories before publication, checking for grammar and content, as well as helped brainstorm and plan for the next issue.
  • Gave feedback and evaluations to writers, and wrote articles as needed.
  • Had final say in selecting staff members, as well as training them, and made sure all writers met deadlines.

March 2008– May 2011          Peer Reader, The Learning and Writing Center, Saint Martin’s University

  • Helped students improve academic papers by revising their work and offered suggestions in both content and grammar.

January 2009 – August 2009  Editor and Co-Writer, One Rule, Many Men: The Monks of Saint Martin’s Abbey

  • Responsible for content, production, planning and coordination of the student driven book, One Rule, Many Men, a compilation of creative non-fiction essays about the monks who currently live on campus.
  • Helped write and edit student essays for publication, checking for grammar and content.
  • Revised previously written stories, as well as the introduction to the book.
  • Had final say in layout, photographs used, as well as the cover design.


2011                                        Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, Saint Martin’s University

Academic Achievements

  • Senior captain of the Saint Martin’s Women’s Basketball Team where we were Academic All-Americans for the 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011 seasons.
  • Awarded the English Inaugural Faculty Prize Award (May 2010).
  • Member of the Saint Martin’s University Society of Fellows (inducted 2009).
  • Have been Greater Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) First Team Academic All-Conference each year eligible (2008 – 2011 seasons).
  • Dean’s List every semester enrolled in Saint Martin’s University.

Clubs and Activities

  • Sole student member of the Saint Martin’s University Mission Statement Committee (2010 –2010).
  • Secretary and Historian of Saint Martin’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the English National Honor’s Society (2008 – 2011).
  • Sole student member of Saint Martin’s University Marketing Committee (2009 – 2010).
  • Member of the Saint Martin’s University Choral (2008 – 2010).

Significant Presentations

  • Senior Thesis Defense: Presented my essay “Soul of Rome”: Nostalgia in Dante’s Inferno and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in front of the Saint Martin’s University English Department and received an A (April 2011).
  • Presented my critical essay Cleopatra’s Androgynous Nature: The Combination of Feminine, Natural Love and Masculine Passion” and my short story “Anatomy of a Freak Show” at the 2011 International Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society Convention.
  • Presented my critical essays “Getting to the Top: The Split of Identity in Capitalistic Society” and “Dante’s Use of St. Bernard’s Contemplative Process in The Divine Comedy” at the 2010 International Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society Convention.
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