• Vol. 7 (2021)

    A journal of interdisciplinary papers presented at the annual West Coast Symposium.

    After a hiatus of two years due to pandemic cancellations, this 2021 volume of essays continues to demonstrate the strong interdisciplinary scholarship found at the institutions participating in this year’s West Coast June Symposium.

    In volume 7, each of the essays illustrates different forms of a journey—physical travel as well as interior examination; after two years of “sheltering in place,” it is clear that the writers were still able to wander and reveal. In Michael Breger’s “In a Sentimental Mode,” we read of the case of Alexander Radishchev, the fictional written account of an anonymous traveler that became a medium for political and literary expression in Imperial Russia under Catherine the Great. The sentimental travelogue Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow served as a critical examination of the locations between two cities as well as the political and social landscape during the twilight decades of the 18th century. In “Relationality Re-imagined,” Brighid FitzGibbon shows how Circe author Madeline Miller gives rare authority and agency to the female protagonist of the ultimate wanderer, Odysseus. She shows how the novel creates a nuanced study of power, value, and perception absent from other portrayals of female characters in heroic epics. In her article “Music and Medicine,” Olivia Knuffke provides a brief introduction into the many ways that music can be used to promote wellness; from rock ’n’ roll to classical concertos, the restorative power of music provides a means by which those who may suffer can be transported to a place of healing. In “The Formation and Social Function of Popular Film Genres,” Michael Schock explains the form and social function of Hollywood genres according to the Ritual School of film theory in which practitioners contend that popular genres center upon currently-irreconcilable cultural contradictions or sources of anxiety.



    We hope the essays within volume 7 challenge you to think in new ways about how narratives and language usage allow us to journey to new places—both in our own minds as well as in our physical space. Enjoy!


    Candy Carter and Peter Kline
    Managing Editors

    Published: 2022-01-6


    Photo credit

    Photographer of the cover image taken in the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge is Robert David Siegel, MD, PhD, Stanford University. The image cannot be used for sale or profit. The photographer retains rights to the image.

  • Vol. 6 (2019)

    A journal of interdiciplinary papers presented at the annual West Coast Symposium.

    This year’s volume of essays continues to demonstrate the strong interdisciplinary scholarship found at the institutions participating in the annual West Coast June Symposium. Each year, I am surprised how the texts manage to weave together despite not having a theme established ahead of time. In volume 6, each of the essays illustrate a different facet of how we communicate with each other. Martha Franks, in “Joining the Great Conversation,” shares her use of classical texts in her Chinese high school classroom as she engages students in discussion-based seminars to prepare them to attend college or university in the United States. By discussing works, such as Homer’s Iliad, the students pushed past the idea that the sole purpose of learning was to succeed on exams, and instead participated in rich discussions about values, leadership, ethics, and morals. Building on the idea of how literature reflects back and challenges societal values, Michael Breger’s close analysis of Honoré de Balzac’s narrative, Le Père Goriot, examines the significance of material possessions in establishing social relations in the text. Drawing from Marx’s and Engels’s newspaper articles, Breger illustrates how literary realism was perceived during the time it was written as a commentary on class values. Christopher McBride’s examines social relations from a different perspective in his analysis of Eudora Welty’s short story, “Death of a Traveling Salesman.” Guided by psychoanalytic theory and Welty’s autobiographical texts, McBride reveals how literature can form a better understanding of human nature as the central character, R. J. Bowman wrestles through conceptions of life and death. While the first three pieces illustrate how narratives illustrate different aspects of human nature, Steven Peterson and Alex Earich explore communication in a different way. Peterson’s examines the value of maintaining the original pronunciation of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew and how it connects to understanding of texts, but also how it guides our practices of faith. His essay, “Greek Without Greeks,” challenges readers to think of the various ways language is used to communicate. Alex Earich’s essay, “Schopenhauer and Rossini and Musical Imitation of Concepts,” is perhaps the outlier to the theme; however, I would argue that music is its own mode of communication and reveals truths about aesthetics. Using Schopenhauer’s strong claim about the “aesthetic effects of music,” Earich examines Rossini’s Il Barbeire Di Siviglia to see how closely the thunderstorm temporale aligns with Schopenhauer’s aesthetic theory. I hope the essays within volume 6 challenge you to think in new ways about how narratives and language usage allow us to communicate. Enjoy!


    Jennifer Chutter
    Managing Editor

  • Vol. 5 (2018)

    While the June Symposium is not based on a theme, the pieces chosen for this edition all illustrate different facets of how we tell stories—stories about ourselves, stories that connect us to each other, and stories that examine the culture we live in. This issue begins with Melissa Berry, in “Current Trends in Creative Non-Fiction,” confronting her own understanding of what it means to belong to the Mensans as she joins their Fourth of July weekend convention. Mira Farrow continues the thread, of stories as a form of personal examination, in “Gender Outlaws,” which explores the tensions of belonging in their autoethnographic piece on coming out as transsexual. Their personal narratives both illustrate desire to belong and the self-constructed barriers preventing them from feeling at home in a space.

    Stories also allow us to form connections with each other in how they are told. Cathy Collis in “Asides and Audience Participation in Restoration Theatre” and Michael Schock in “Basic Structures of Ideological Communication in Traditional Hollywood Feature Film Narratives” both illustrate how audiences receive stories presented on stage and in popular films. Collis explores the role of asides in 18th Century theatre and how they tell stories to the audience in order to connect the actor to the context of the time in order to create a deeper intimacy.  Schock examines how the narrative structures of Hollywood films form a connection with their audiences, but at the same time are not always a depiction of societal values.

    The last four pieces in this volume examine how a deeper understanding of culture is revealed in a close examination of personal and artistic practices.  Libby O’Neil and Rachelle Burnside both illustrate how religion becomes a way to convey certain norms and expectations of how people should behave in society. O’Neil, in “Wedding (and Divorcing) the Brides of Christ,” explores the changing marriage practices with the rise of Protestantism, which in turn reflected the changing expectations towards how women were expected to show their devotion to God and their husbands. Burnside offers a different view of religion’s role in popular culture in her critique of how Blake’s illustrations of Dante’s Inferno both supported and disputed conceptions of sinners.  Abilio Olmedo and Meg Cook both show how we tell stories about ourselves in the society in which we live in. Abilio Olmedo explores the way we present aspects of ourselves on social media and connects it to Utilitarianism.  Meg Cook’s examination of Nabokov’s term “Poshlust” in relation to Lolita shows how fictional characters illustrate a greater critique of American society. The way we tell stories reveals something about the society in which we live, our values, and our connections with others—our desire to tell stories, both personal and academic, is what creates such a lively environment in Liberal Studies.  

    We hope you enjoy this volume!

    Jennifer Chutter
    Managing Editor

    Editorial Board: Barbara Amen (Reed College), Peter Kline (Stanford University), Melissa Berry (Mount St. Mary’s University), Joan Barranow (Dominican University), Riki Thompson (University of Washington Tacoma)

  • Vol. 4 (2017)

    Volume 4 of Western Tributaries represents the best of interdisciplinary scholarship from the June 2017 West Coast Liberal Studies Symposium. The essays included reflect the diversity of thinking encouraged in the different programs, and collectively make for an engaging read. The journal opens with Libby O’Neil’s insightful analysis of the role of women pushing for political change in her discussion of how “the intertwined concepts of virtue, race and gender function” during American Abolitionism. Cathy Collis picks up this theme in her discussion of women’s involvement in the 1960s radical protest group The Weathermen. Building on the theme of women seeking change during the 1960s, Andrea Terpenkas discusses how the work of Shigeko Kubota, Kate Millet, and Yoko Ono contributed to the Fluxus art movement, which sought to challenge “the engendered power structures” in North American society. Rebecca Ross continues with the discussion of the role of artist in her close reading of Octavia Butler’s work. Ross illustrates how Butler develops the idea of the feminine uncanny in order to explore the freedoms and constraints of race and gender. Laura Damone tackles a different aspect of freedom and constraint in her close reading of the metrical construction of William Wordsworth’s poetry. She argues that the changing metrical form makes his poetry more accessible to a wider audience.  Like Wordsworth, James Joyce, in Ulysses, also attempts to make his writing more accessible to a wider audience. Neil Ramiller argues in “Inventorying Ithaca” that the everyday objects included in this section play an important role in understanding “our own identities in the context of the material world.” Lynette Yetter explores a different aspect of the importance of objects in society in her discussion of iconography of the Virgin Mary and Pachamama in Early-Colonial Copacabana.  She illustrates how the people of Copacabana wove together the two symbols as part of their religious practice rather than converting to Catholicism as previous scholarship has suggested. Volume 4 closes with Tony Westman’s challenging and humorous look at climate change in his essay “Dreams of Utopia and the Zombie Apocalypse.“  From early-colonial history to the future, the essays included in Western Tributaries encourage readers to travel through time, genre and discipline in order to continue to wrestle with the big ideas of race, gender, language, art, politics, and material culture. We hope that Volume 4 reflects the excitement and engagement with diverse ideas found at the annual June Symposium.




    Jennifer Chutter

    Western Tributaries Managing Editor

    Editorial Board: Barbara Amen (Reed), Joan Baranow (Dominican), Peter Kline (Stanford), Riki Thompson (University of Washington Tacoma), Ana Thorne (Mt. St. Mary’s), Amy Wong (Dominican).

  • Vol. 3 (2016)

    Welcome to the third issue of Western Tributaries! This issue features five essays that were presented at the West Coast Liberal Studies Symposium, hosted by Simon Fraser University, in June 2016. Myr Hansen explores the differences between Jewish and Roma diasporas in an attempt to understand how “cultures exist, adapt, and are marginalized or integrated on a larger scale.” Building on the theme of culture, Derek Finn examines it from a different perspective through his biography of Charles Coughlin, a Roman Catholic priest and popular radio broadcaster. Finn argues for greater recognition of Coughlin’s popularization and legitimization of social justice ideals in the public and political consciousness, in the early 1930s. Lynette Yetter further explores the theme of social justice through her analysis of the characterization of Doña Felipa, the central character in José Maria Arguendas’s 1958 semi-autobiographical novel Deep Rivers. Yetter illustrates how the central character is a transformative force in society in her encouragement of others to take action for justice and the public good. A different conceptualization of female identity is explored in Michele Martin’s work. Using Faulkner’s novel The Sound and the Fury and Flannery O’Conner’s short stories, Martin illustrates how the mothers are inadequate guides to their daughters who are rebelling against the Southern ladylike ideals in the early twentieth century. Looking at a different aspect of socially acceptable behaviour, Veronica McGhee reflects on her own high school and university experiences with Shakespeare’s sexual references. In order to find the balance between “revealing and concealing,” McGhee discusses her journey of making Shakespeare’s plays relevant in her own classroom. We hope you enjoy the diverse articles of this issue.


    Jennifer Chutter
    Journal Manager and Editor
    Simon Fraser University

  • Vol. 2 (2015)

    Welcome to the second issue of Western Tributaries. The essays herein represent some of the papers presented at the West Coast Liberal Studies Symposium held at Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, in June 2015. Claire Benjamin takes us into the world of the irrepresible Anne Shirley in her exploration of the female orphan archetype in Anne of Green Gables. Through Benjamin's analysis, we gain an understanding of how Anne's imagination becomes a source of power. Continuing with the theme of adventurous and imaginative girls, Dave Seter's explores the intertexuality within the Eudora's Welty's short story "Moon Lake" with her references to Harold Bell Wright's The Recreation of Brian Kent. Tricia Pummill continues the thread of strong female characters in literature with her analysis of The Stepford Wives. By drawing parallels to the Holocaust and the treatment of the Jews and the female characters in the novel, Pummill explores larger themes of oppression and identity. The theme of oppression continues in Candy Carter's essay. Carter provides insight into an early period of slavery in the US with her close examination of Anna, a slave who jumped out a window in order to escape. Anna becomes a focal figure in discussion of the history of slavery and in literature. Katherine Orloff's essay provides a different look at the history of slavery in the United States. Orloff explores William Lloyd Garrison equating of colonialism with slavery as a lens through which to view the American Colonization Society's desire to relocate rather than emancipate blacks prior to the Civil War. Siddhartha Shome explores the contrasting views of Mahatma Ghandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.'s towards modernity and whether technological innovation will encourage the emancipation of enslaved classes. We hope you enjoy this issue. 

    Jennifer Chutter
    Journal Manager and Editor
    Simon Fraser University 

  • Vol. 1 (2014)

    The articles in this issue represent the types of diverse, interdisciplinary scholarship that marks liberal arts masters programs. We begin with Candy Carter’s research on The Roaring Girl in The Fashion of Playmaking, which explores how theater holds a mirror up to everyday life. Written in 1611, The Roaring Girl 's central figure is Moll Cutpurse, a character based on Mary Frith, a real‐life cross‐dressing street performer. Frith was well‐known to audience members, and her on‐stage depiction sheds light on important intersections between rising consumerism, gender politics, personal agency, and relaxation of rigid social classes. In her research for Simone de Beauvoir’s Transcendence and Immanence in the 21st century: Tension between Career and Motherhood, Jennifer Day employs the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir to analyze 21st century popular writings on career and motherhood. This cross‐generational and multidisciplinary approach is the hallmark of Liberal studies. In Invoking the Middleness of ‘Ma ning’ Toward the Dissolution of Gender Dualism, Diana Putterman crosses disciplinary boundaries to bring together studies of Religion, Gender, and History. By analyzing the dualism in Eastern Buddhist practice and offering a Buddhist tenet for correction, her research addresses a way to reconcile sexism that can be applied to all walks of life and also offers a healing rectification to the damaging burden of male hegemony within Eastern Buddhist practice. Margaret Lundberg reminds us that fiction as a method of analysis is not often considered a conventional research tool, but storytelling has traditionally been respected as one of the best ways to pass along the central aspects of any peoples’ values and culture. Examining the stories in the diaries and journals left behind by ordinary people—women, in particular—can possibly teach us more about the ethos and everyday realities of the times in which they lived than any history book ever could. In “A Continuous Present”: Crafting a Fictional Conversation with a 19th Century Diarist, Lundberg examines one such diary and follows up her research with a novel, which allows her to explore not only the personal themes found within one women’s diary through several intersecting disciplines, including history, women’s studies, philosophy and narrative studies.. Laura Moore’s research continues the focus on writers in I Will Be Myself: Finding the Feminine Sublime in Jane Eyre. Referring to the social function of writers, Ezra Pound said “Literature does not exist in a vacuum.” And neither does literature arise out of a vacuum: even a writer as relatively isolated as Charlotte Brontë engaged with the artistic philosophies of her age. Through examining Jane Eyre in the context of Romanticism, specifically the aesthetic of the Sublime, Moore examines how Brontë re‐works the philosophies of Kant and Burke to craft her own vision of the Sublime as a feminine – rather than masculine – spiritual force. Brontë’s contribution to this particular Romantic conversation broadens our understanding of the Sublime as much as it deepens our understanding of Jane Eyre. Siddhartha Shome writes about the ideological roots of Zionism and the core values that shaped it during the first half of the twentieth century in Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Europe. This exploration of the ideological roots of Zionism contributes to a better understanding of important historical events, and may even help in interpreting current events today. Finally, in her investigation that asks How Can Feedback Increase Self‐Determined Motivation to Keep Writing?, Maylorie Townsend argues that resistance to writing can lead to student attrition, particularly with academically challenged students who lack prior competence. Fostering motivation in writing through carefully crafted feedback benefits both instructors and learners across all disciplines. Using a theoretical framework grounded in motivational psychology, her research offers an interdisciplinary exploration of possible solutions to writing‐based challenges affecting student retention.

    Riki Thompson, Issue Editor
    University of Washington Tacoma
    MAIS (Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies)