The Art of Eating Well at the Bryn Mawr Italian Department

Imagine belting sixties Italian karaoke with your professors at the annual departmental Christmas party while holding a piece of panettone. College is clearly more than the exams.

This week in Italian class, we discussed Pellegrino Artusi, a prolific cook and chef of one of the most famous gastronomic books written; La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiar bene(Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well). Our class discussions are always fascinating; ranging from the problem of the mammone (mamma’s boy) in Italy, the out-of-control tourist influx in Venice, and the Italian terrorist activity during the 1970s, to the art of savoring an espresso. I think that discussions flow freely not only because of the nature of the content, but also because we feel encouraged to speak without the embarrassment or shame of stumbling over our words. This week’s topic was Artusi and his magnificent cookbook, a work that told the stories of recipes spanning different regions of Italy, all with a humor and passion for the food.

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A Festive Saturday in Narberth

Bryn Mawr is located on the Main Line, a string of prosperous suburban towns that grew along the early rail line running west from Philadelphia. As much as I encourage exploring the city, I think we have the tendency to bypass the towns in between Bryn Mawr and Philadelphia. Of course, we students love Ardmore for its Trader Joe’s, and those who take classes at Haverford frequent the Green Engine Coffee Co., but we do not often venture farther.

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Senior Year Thesis Chronicles Pt. 1 

In the French department, a culmination of the senior experience is the thesis, a large, fifty-plus-page essay on a topic of your choosing. A thesis is not required in every department, and even within the French department the thesis is optional. I have noticed from observing seniors, and now as a senior myself, that those who have chosen to do the thesis will frequently be heard grumbling and moaning about their topic. Yet what I also observe is their dedication to their subject. The complaints are surface, for they mask a deep commitment and love for their thesis.

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Clubs and the Coming Semester

Mawrtyrs, how are you? It surprises me to think there are so few weeks before the semester is over. Between Thanksgiving and the end of the semester are a mere three weeks. With that in mind, I advise you to go now and talk to your professors and advisers about papers, and outlines, and projects, and exams, because the hectic whirlwind of work and student activities at Bryn Mawr will only gather momentum as the holidays approach . . .

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Croissants and Concerts

Hello Mawrtyrs!

What an eventful week it has been. For every dose of stress I have been drinking two doses of espresso. I recommend Delice et Chocolat—a recently opened French patisserie in Ardmore. On a peaceful morning over steaming lattes, bitter espressos, and croissants with a crust that dimpled and flaked when pressed, my friends and I discussed our French classes and the past whirlwind week. There is always something happening on campus.

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Autumn’s Literary Travels

To me, fall is wading through perfectly crisp leaves that crunch underfoot. Fall is pressing the hot cup of apple cider against my cold cheeks and sneezing from the spice of freshly grated cinnamon. Fall is feeding wood to a glowing fireplace and cooking with as much pumpkin and apple and nutmeg and cloves and ginger as possible. And so, I returned to the Berkshires, in far western Massachusetts, for the fall vacation.

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2018 ASA Culture Show 

Each fall the Bryn Mawr Asian Student Association (ASA) hosts a fully student-organized and student-led show to showcase talent in the community. As I understand, it’s a lengthy process for which planning begins at the close of the previous year’s concert. Therefore, the two-hour show in Goodhart Hall is the meticulously organized pride of ASA, from the dancers to the guest performers to the lights and, not least of all, the food. The show is always a success. This year was no exception, which the size of the audience, as well as the decibel level of their appreciation, could attest to. This show also marks the first time Bryn Mawr and Haverford’s Asian Students Associations combined forces to create the splendid, amply attended ASA x HASA Culture Show 2018: Celebration. ASA president Jessie Chen was the ringleader of this year’s show and, along with the ASA e-board, carried the night with a professional balance of grace, enthusiasm, and wit.

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360 Lectures at the Mawr

Two Ways of Thinking about the Family: Chinese and Aztec

On Thursday afternoon, September 27, Bryn Mawr hosted three simultaneous lectures on a bevy of topics: Modeling the Hand Gesture in the Age of the Silk Roads; The Medieval Now: White Nationalism, Medieval Studies, and Race; and the one I ultimately attended: Two Ways of Thinking about the Family: Chinese and Aztec.

Codex Mendoza [Codex]. (1541-1542). Bodleian Library, Oxford.

In a fascinating lecture on family and its role in society, Professor Ann Waltner from the University of Minnesota presented, compared, and dissected two pieces of art: The Codex Mendoza, a sixteenth-century Aztec codex* commissioned by a viceroy of New Spain for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and Portrait of Wang Shimin, a seventeenth-century painting by Gu Jianlong.

The section of the Codex Mendoza in question illustrated the separate trajectories and child-rearing techniques for a boy and girl up to marriage age. Waltner first helped us read the images. How to interpret the little painted circles above the boy and the girl in the codex? Each circle signified a year of their life. At fourteen circles, the boy had learned how to navigate a canoe on Lake Texcoco, where there could have been two hundred thousand canoes at the same time! The girl, under the guidance of her mother, had learned how to weave at a loom and cook. Yet while each had clearly defined gender roles, neither the mother nor the father was depicted as more important in raising the young. The codex suggested that responsibilities fell equally for making the children into adults. We also explored the role of family in the Portrait of Wang Shimin. The prominent painter Wang Shimin and members of his family were painted by Gu in their home, surrounded by a lush array of flowers and trees. Waltner remarked that family portraits were not typical of this period in China, yet what is even more curious is the woman (her role in the family is unknown) who regards the viewer with an unflinching gaze. Another woman is veiled behind a screen, her face obscured from the viewer.

Gu, J. (17th Century). Portrait of Wang Shimin [Painting]. Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis.

After a study of the two paintings, Waltner questioned the way in which private family behavior might influence state politics. How could a woman’s sexuality relate to politics? What did the child-rearing techniques and traditions of the Aztecs suggest about their culture and gender roles in society? And in the world of both works, where did gender and empire meet? The lecture within the 360 program mirrored what the program itself seeks to foster: an inquisitive exploration of similar themes throughout different disciplines taught at Bryn Mawr.

-PC: Professor Yonglin Jiang

The 360 program is an interdisciplinary semester-long experience. There are a few 360s each semester, each comprising three courses from different departments yet whose juxtaposition allows for a study of each topic from a different perspective. The 360 cluster that invited Professor Waltner is called “Empires” and includes Introduction of Health Studies; Language and Empire in Mesoamerica; and Chinese Empires: Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Check out some of the past 360 course clusters here.

*A codex is a book of handwritten text. 

Back from Abroad, on to Senior Year 

This year I moved off campus to a nearby apartment with Sabrina, a kind friend, ambitious chemist, and fellow Korean-drama watcher. In our apartment we are close enough to campus to glimpse the clock tower of Taylor Hall through the trees. While being off campus may have some disadvantages, we do enjoy cooking in our apartment, and there is nothing homier than the inviting array of aromas rising from the pots on the stove!

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