Art As Understanding of Social Change

David Ross, an artist, an intellectual, and art curator came to UMF on September 26 to give a talk about art and social change.

 Coolest bar in town! Ross, never a bar guy, is a regular at  Dogwood  in Beacon, NY. The only bar he ever liked. And definitely a fav of mine. (https://www.upstatediary.com/david-a-ross/)

The time we live in is a complicated but a fascinating one, and so has every other time been that came before this one. Ross asked us in the audience, “how have we recorded our time?” There are lots of books and scholarly sources that detail the events and movements of history, but did you ever think about art as a capsule into past and current times? Art is an artist’s way of understanding and comprehending the time we are in.

As a seasoned art curator and intellectual, Ross has come to a conclusion that, “art makes us think why we think what we think.” That’s a lot to unpack, let’s read that again. “Art makes us think why we think what we think,” about social change and about what the generation coming of age is going through. Art as a collective is a display of multifaceted and multimedia interpretations of the world around us. To create art, you must effectively stop, stare, think and finally, create an interpretation. Your interpretation.

Our fast paced culture has everyone missing out on the critical catharsis and contemplation of the times in which we live. Ross believes in the power of art museums “as places that talk about the idea of slowing down.” The act of going to an art museum — taking perhaps the better part of an afternoon, at least — to observe, absorb, and to think will provoke new thoughts and stimulate our minds to insights about our world.

Ross has done lots of observation and contemplation of his surroundings which has led him to believe that the “problem in our culture is the need for quiet, slow reflection.” In our current time, especially, is it important to document, reflect, and contemplate silently.

The individual conundrums which we all experience can be better understood by creating our own art. In this way, museums play a crucial role for the sanity of the people. Ross whole heartedly expressed that, “museums can effect change.” Museums as an “open forum among artists” provide space for us to “slow down” and evaluate and react to social change.

Do you have a message about our time? You do? Great! Put your message out there however you can. As Ross and many other thinkers have said, “art is art,” make it however and what you will, just make it meaningful.

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English Majors Share Capstone Projects at Symposium

UMF recently hosted its annual Symposium Day, a day where students across different majors can present work they have been spending anywhere from a semester to a whole year working on.

Symposium presentations run the gambit from creative endeavors to scientific research. Symposium allows students to present their research and their projects, as well as take questions from fellow students, faculty members, and other audience members.

For English majors, Symposium Day consisted of various presentations across a variety of topics. Some presentations included analyses of adaptation, such as Richard Southard’s presentation on Music as Adaptation, how novels and authors brought about the birth of a new genre, such as Jessica Casey’s presentation on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein being attributed to the birth of science-fiction, and reflecting on the lives and works of influential authors and writers, such as Anthony Lewis’s presentation on the life and music of Bob Dylan. English seniors also presented their Capstone projects in the Landing.

Capstone is the last class in every major in which students pursue a topic of interest in a project unique to the major, such as portfolios for creative writing majors, an art show for art majors, and for English majors, research papers. Capstone classes are a semester long and are almost entirely dedicated to research, which culminates in a presentation on the topic (usually Symposium, though there are other events depending on the semester and the class, such as the Senior Reading for Creative Writing majors).

The senior presenters consisted of Ciara Keene, Justine Walp, Anthony Lewis, Allison Turtlott, Jessica Casey, and Rosemary Penny, all sponsored by English professor Kristen Case.

Symposium presentations also include two one year-long Research Fellow award winners, one of which was held by English major Curtis Cole. Cole’s presentation, titled Enchanted Assemblages: Creative Pedagogy and Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, was sponsored by English professor Dan Gunn. There were also many Wilson Scholar awards, which are dedicated to shorter semester long, but still more in depth projects. These projects included Hannah Calkin’s poetry book and the process of creating and publishing it and Lauren Stetson’s practicum in intensive nonfiction.

Symposium Day is overseen and organized by the University Culture Committee. English professor Misty Krueger serves as the chair, with professors Paul Stancioff, Patti Bailie, and Olivia Donaldson serving as the other members.

Symposium Day is named for UMF alumni Michael D. Wilson, who graduated UMF in 1976 and was killed in an accident shortly before beginning a teaching position in Aroostook County. Presentations are made possible by Wilson Research Fellow Awards, Wilson Scholarships, and the students and faculty advisors.
For this year’s symposium program of events, visit http://www2.umf.maine.edu/symposium/wp-content/uploads/sites/107/2018/04/Symposium-Book-2018-1.pdf.  

Humanities Spring Reception

The Humanities Division at the University of Maine at Farmington recently help its annual spring reception to celebrate the end of the school year and the honor the the past year of accomplishments by students in the Humanities. At the ceremony, we recognized a variety of student accomplishments:

SIGMA TAU DELTA (English Honor Society) newly inducted members:

  • Thandiwe Andrade-Foster
  • Tegan Bradley
  • Carrie Close
  • Christina Kouros
  • Heather Leet
  • Wenyi (Nyx) Lu
  • Dale Rappaneau, Jr.
  • Alison Turtlott
  • Sarah Veilleux
  • Henry Wanat

SIGMA TAU DELTA members who are graduating:

  • Jessica Casey
  • Nicholas Cross
  • ​Christina Kouros​
  • Elizabeth Thompson
  • Alison Turtlott
  • Hannah Zimmerman

 

SIGMA TAU DELTA officers for 2018-2019:

  • Aurora Bartley (President)
  • Tegan Bradley (Vice President)
  • Curtis Cole (Secretary)
  • Thandiwe Andrade-Foster (Treasurer)

WILSON FELLOWS AND SCHOLARS:​

  • Curtis Cole (Wilson Fellow), faculty advisor Daniel Gunn
  • Hannah Calkin (Wilson Scholar), faculty advisor Shana Youngdahl
  • Richard Southard (Wilson Scholar), faculty advisors Michael Johnson and Steven Pane
  • Lauren Stetson (Wilson Scholar), faculty advisor Eireann Lorsung

RECOGNITION FOR LIFE-LONG LEARNING: Dorothy (Dot) White

SUCCESSFUL GRADUATE SCHOOL APPLICANT: Cassidy Marsh (pursuing an M.A. in English at the University of Maine)

VARIOUS WRITING ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

Alice James Books Director’s Chair Fellowship for fall 2018: Carrie Close

Islandport Magazine Writing Contest winner: Aimee Degroat (for “Where He Ain’t”)

University of Maine at Augusta Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival Poetry Contest:

  • Third prize: Gail Bello
  • Second prize: Billie Rose Newby

​Urban Apprenticeship Grants​ (funded by Proctor and Gamble):

Tegan Bradley

Zoe Stonetree

BFA SENIOR AWARD:

Fall 2017: Willy Doehring

Spring 2018: Hannah Calkin

BETH EISEN MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Dale Rappaneau, Jr.

HONORABLE MENTION FOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE FIELD OF ENGLISH (finalists for Parks Award and Wood Scholarship):

  • Jenna Arcand
  • Conor Crandall
  • Ashley Forshaw
  • Joshua Heath
  • Meagan Jones
  • Elizabeth Kane
  • Emily Marquis
  • Dale Rappaneau, Jr.

MAUD L. PARKS AWARD: Annie Moloney

ELEANOR WOOD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Belanna Morales

Journalist Dr. Ann Jones Talks Investigative Reporting and Democracy at UMF

Investigative journalist Dr. Ann Jones was recently met with a large crowd of students, faculty, and community members in Lincoln Auditorium for her discussion on investigative reporting.

Author of the book They Were Soldiers, which details sexual abuse and homicide in the U.S. military,  Jones was introduced to the audience as “the voice for women and men in the #metoo movement, the military, and domestic violence.”

Jones briefly detailed her time in Afghanistan; she initially went to help the citizens rebuild their communities long before she began her investigative reporting within the military.

“I knew more about Afghan culture than the American soldiers,” Jones said. “It was a strange situation.”

Jones reminded the audience that wartime reporting is just one kind of investigative reporting. She then stated that the core of investigative journalism is that when someone persists on an inconsistent or incorrect narrative, it is the journalist’s job to expose its flaws, disrupt the narrative, or straight up break it.

Jones walked the audience through a brief history of democracy and explained how it and journalism walk hand in hand. Democracy is a relatively modern concept, conceived by the Athenians and meaning “rule by the people.” Dating back to the birth of the United States, “it was the citizens’ duty to participate, to allow [democracy] to survive,” Jones said. “People were free to participate in governing for the common good.”

Jones noted that the United States Constitution uses the phrase that “men are created equal,” specifically white, property owning men, excluding women of all kinds and men of color.

“Democracy must work for everyone,” Jones said in criticism of how the U.S. employs democracy.

Jones explained how several Nordic countries such as Scandinavia and Finland, mistakenly labeled as socialist, are actually utilizing capitalism fairly. People are taxed as individuals, the majority of women in the country work, and necessities such as food and medicine are more easily accessible. These are the results many Americans marched for during the Civil Rights Movement.

“I wore out many pairs of boots walking the streets of this country to make sure our voices were heard,” Jones said.

When it comes to journalism, these differences in how the U.S. government runs compared to other socialist countries have been investigated worldwide. Journalists have helped to project the voices of those marching and reported the facts on what was going on with the government. Journalists fought to preserve democracy during these times.

Jones also commented that many mainstream media reporters do not fully or truly investigate matters, which contributes to audiences being unable to distinguish real news from fake news. She noted that “so much time is spent on speculation,” which is not true reporting.

“People argue about things that just don’t matter; they spend too much time asking each other ‘what do you think?’ and they get confused and don’t know what they’re fighting about,” Jones said. “If the reporters don’t know what they’re fighting about, then neither do we.”

Jones recounted the experiences of her colleagues who were invited on news shows to discuss stories they had been reporting on. They are always asked, “what do you think will happen next?” which is not the role of the journalist.

“There is no room for opinions,” Jones said. “Journalists want to know what is really going on, not what we think is going on or what will go on.”

In closing, Jones believes that the U.S. has work to do to become a true representation of all the voices that live here.

“We’ve come a long way from Athens,” she said.

Writer Lewis Hyde talks Ownership, Intellectual Property, and the Cultural Commons at UMF

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Lewis Hyde, author of Common as Air, defends the idea of a cultural commons at UMF

In wake of the final 12 New Commons Project nominations being selected, poet, essayist, and author of the book Common as Air Lewis Hyde visited UMF to speak in defense of the cultural commons and discuss the question of “who exactly owns what?” Hyde was met with a full house of students and faculty members, as well as a livestream of the event on Facebook.

English professor Kristen Case introduced Hyde and discussed his book, noting that the core of his discussion would be centered around the battle of intellectual property and the entertainment industry.

“If you haven’t bought it, you stole it,” Case said when quoting Hyde’s book.

As a scholar who served as a writing professor at both Harvard and Kenyon College, Hyde began his discussion on the concept of ownership and copyright laws with an example from his university experiences.

“We get emails from the entertainment industry to remind us how harsh the law is when it comes to pirating movies and music,” Hyde said. “‘Theft is a harsh word,’ they said, and while that is true, is there more to it?”

Hyde continued with an analysis of the rise of digital media and how internet platforms have confused the rules of “who owns what.” He posed one of the core questions, “what is property?” which can be defined as having the ability to give the “right to exclude,” meaning you can prevent people from using or interacting with said piece of property.

“A commons is defined as a wealth of resources that can be used by the whole community, which therefore means you can’t exclude people from using it,” Hyde pointed out when drawing this argument back to the New Commons.

Given the definition of a regular commons, a cultural commons can be defined as a wealth of artistic resources, culturally significant ideas and works, and the management of ideas.

“Given that definition and logic, the only way to keep people from using art and ideas is to keep it all in your head,” Hyde said.

This led to the “tragedy of the commons,” the idea that only so much grass can grow, meaning that the resources can be limited and run out if not monitored. Can too many people “own” one idea?

“Some of the copyrighted [New Commons] nominations may have some problems and zones of conflict,” Hyde said. “How should we manage the fruits of human creativity?”

Hyde then noted founding father Benjamin Franklin and his refusal to copyright or patent his works and inventions. The fact that he had help with every element, from concepts to how things should work, came from someone else.

“What am I? My works have been nourished by countless individuals,” Franklin said in regards to this matter. “My work is the work of a collective.”

This led to the “thesis” of Hyde’s argument; sharing ideas is how we improve them. Creative work belongs in the commons because it circulates knowledge for future generations. Although the issue becomes more complicated when you mix labor into the idea, the fact that someone interacted with the art and the idea means that new ideas are born, whether you want that result or not.

“What is the self that comes into being in the presence of someone else’s art?” Hyde questioned.

The final 12 New Commons nominations have been selected; to find out what they are, or to learn more about the New Commons Project, visit the website at http://newcommons.umf.maine.edu/.

American Dreams: Immigration Stories Promotes Reflection on What it Means to Be an Immigrant in the United States

In response to recent rhetoric surrounding immigration, professor Linda Britt wrote the play American Dreams: Immigration Stories, a collection of stories from the perspective of immigrants currently living in the United States. Britt took inspiration from such incidents as the immigration ban and the jeopardization of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy to represent people from multiple countries across several generations.

“This play was sparked by the news that we see everyday about immigrants and where they’re from and the rhetoric that’s coming out about there being ‘bad’ immigrants,” Britt said.

The characters in Britt’s stories had mixed viewpoints on living in America. Some did not actually want to be here, such as a 53-year-old homesick Bosnian woman whose daughter lived in the States and a 22-year-old Iranian student who was trapped in the U.S. after her student visa expired. Others worked hard to make a living here and wished to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” such as a gay man from Egypt escaping persecution and a young woman from South America whose parents were deported after living in the U.S. legally for over 20 years.

“I wanted people to think about that question, ‘what would you do if you were me?’” Britt said.

English professor Misty Krueger portrayed 42-year-old Emily, an immigrant from England. In an email interview, she expressed her interest in Emily’s character comes from the fact that even though she is considered charming, she is still viewed at as a “porcelain doll” and “pretty actress” because of her accent.

“I liked Emily’s story because I could imagine someone like her really enjoying her life in the States and feeling somewhat guilty about being that ‘good immigrant’ type–the one that people forget is actually an immigrant,” Krueger said. “I could imagine Emily’s empathy, and her questioning of what makes her any different than anyone else.”

Junior English major Aurora Bartley played a French immigrant named Celeste, whose character also managed to find success in the U.S. When preparing for the role, Bartley expressed difficulties in putting herself in the shoes of a new mother getting her green card.

“When we had our first small group rehearsal, I got to hear a bunch of other monologues and other immigrant experiences. After hearing the connection other people had with their stories, I was able to feel mine more,” Bartley said. “I was able to put more emotion into mine. I was able to put myself there emotionally because other people in the room were doing that too.”

Britt described the first meetings when she was first conceptualizing the play. After an initial meeting with Anthropology professor Nicole Kellett, Director of International and Global Studies (IGS) Linda Beck, and various IGS students, they determined that the usual lecture style was too academic for the message they wanted to convey.

“One of the students who was in this meeting said, ‘it’s always the same people who come to the roundtable discussions. The people that need to hear about these aren’t going to come to a roundtable, where people are talking at you.’ So I offered to write a play,” Britt said. “It would be different because it’s entertainment, but at the same time it deals with the issues, and maybe people who don’t normally come would come to this.”

Bartley and Krueger both agreed that their backgrounds in English helped them prepare for the play.

“Being an English major helped me with performing the monologue, and having an understanding of the words and the sentence structure,” Bartley said. “Linda wrote it as though a French person was trying to translate it from French to English so some of the sentences were flip flopped and it was a different structure, but it was interesting.”

For Krueger, her additional background in theatre was an important factor in her preparation for the play, including a dissertation on drama, directing plays of her own, and studying literature in England, the homeland of her character.

“I feel really comfortable in a theater. My background in English literature helped too because I have spent a lot time in England, as well, studying drama and fiction,” Krueger said. “But my background in linguistics also helped because linguistics asks you to think about every sound you make and to differentiate between sounds.”

Bartley and Krueger also agreed that participating in this play gave them a new perspective on immigration issues in the United States. For Bartley, the play made her think about why people choose to leave their homes and how they came to America.

“[The play] got me thinking about why people are so discriminative; maybe it’s because they’re different, maybe it’s because ‘they’re taking our jobs,’ but those are just silly reasons,” Bartley said. “This play felt a bit sad but they’re stories that need to be heard and I’m thankful I heard them.”

Krueger noted that the stories made the issue feel more personal. The cast spent time reflecting on the stories and the fact that there are real people experiencing these situations.

“When we read the news or only the headlines, we just see another sad story and then tend to move on with our days,” Krueger said. “These characters are based on actual people who are living in the US here and now. This is America now. We have to respond to the unethical treatment of people who have lived in this country and who have made it their homes. Telling these stories is only a small part of what we need to do, but it is a start.”

For Linda Britt, her aim was to get the audience to look at immigrants with empathy and to put themselves in the shoes of others.

“I had several people come up to me; this one fellow, elderly gentleman from Yugoslavia just wanted to thank me for telling the stories,” Britt said. “He wasn’t the only one; it meant something to the whole community. I hope people could just see these immigrants as humans.”

 

UMF Discusses Get Out and the Politics of the Oscars

Prior to the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony, UMF hosted a roundtable discussion on Jordan Peele’s debut film Get Out and the discourse the film would bring to the Oscars.

Get Out was nominated for “Best Picture,” “Best Original Screenplay,” “Best Actor,” and “Best Director.” The film ended up winning the “Best Original Screenplay” category, but the main focus of controversy was for its nomination as a comedy film for “Best Picture.”

Hosted by professors Michael Johnson, Ann Kennedy, Dawn Nye, and Sarah Maline, the panel immediately jumped into the controversy surrounding the Oscars and their treatment of Get Out. The comedy nomination sparked outrage among Twitter users, though this is not uncommon. Horror has been an overlooked genre in the Academy, with other horror films being entered in the drama category in years past. Although horror films have been nominated for “Best Picture” throughout the years, Silence of the Lambs was the last horror film to win this specific category in 1991.

Although the panel was met with a small crowd, every member of the audience had something to contribute to the discussion.

“Are you young people still watching the Oscars? Are you watching closely?” Nye asked the audience. Every person offered a response along the lines of “no,” with many opting to follow along on social media, namely Twitter.

“Who decides what is the ‘best picture?’ How do they decide? If my opinion doesn’t matter, why should I watch?” one student inquired when thinking about why younger audiences do not tune in.

Get Out is not the first film to generate this kind of discourse about what constitutes the “best picture;” foreign films have also inspired similar conversations.

“People try too hard to make blockbusters,” Maline said. “They often think to themselves, ‘what will the U.S. find charming about our culture?”

All of these elements lead us to the question at the center of this controversy: what do our Oscar nominations say about the U.S. as a society?

“I think it’s interesting that Hollywood is trying to remain neutral on industry politics,” Kennedy said. “Actors and actresses are chastised for standing up and making things political, but are they really speaking?”

Kennedy referenced the #metoo movement in this regard, noting that “the men stayed silent so women could have a chance to speak. The problem is, they lose nothing by staying silent.”

Johnson showcased a clip from the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, in which a young woman named Sacheen Littlefeather took the stage in place of Marlon Brando after winning the award for “Best Actor” in The Godfather, to decline the award and instead give a speech on the unfair treatment of Indigenous people in the entertainment industry and in the United States in general as an example, calling it “one of the first instances of politicizing.”

Bringing the presentation back to Get Out, the panel and the audience analyzed various elements of the film that also contribute to this discourse and reflect the tumultuous political air surrounding the ceremony.

“White audiences don’t understand how uncomfortable the humor is,” an audience member said.

The overall consensus of the group’s analysis was that protagonist Chris Washington was an African-American man entering a white man’s world, and that world involved a sense of invasiveness, down to the way his girlfriend Rose’s family commented on his physical appearance and artistic abilities.

“Just the fact that Chris is a photographer, the white characters sort of look at that and assume art is a physical talent and not intellectual,” Johnson said while commenting on uncomfortable (and sometimes unconscious) attitudes the film forces viewers to confront.

“When this [controversy] started, Jordan Peele took to Twitter too,” Johnson said. “He tweeted, ‘Get Out is a documentary.’”

“Film is always political, whether it ignores it or embraces it, both are political statements,” Nye said at the end of the presentation.

Editing and Publishing Minor

In addition to offering a major in English, the English department also participates in several interdisciplinary minors, including a recently approved minor in Editing and Publishing.

Editing and Publishing Minor

Students in this minor will develop the knowledge and experience to design, edit, and publish work in a variety of genres through a combination of hands-on learning and course work.  They will gain familiarity with the history, ethics, and business of publishing and have opportunities to integrate these with studies in literature, creative writing, and journalism.  Students will gain experience in both digital and print production and be prepared for careers in a variety of fields within publishing.

Required Courses   

ENG 202 – Editing                                            4   credits

ENG 203—Essentials of Publishing               4

ENG 204 – Studies in Book Arts                      4

ENG 396 or 397 – Approved Internship/Apprenticeship                     (2-4 credits)

(ENG 396/397 may be doubled counted with approval of Editing and Publishing and Major Advisor)

Prerequisites:  ENG 202, 203 or 204

One of the following writing courses (cannot be doubled counted

with major requirements):    (4 credits each)                                4

ENG 200 Professional Writing

ENG 201 Public Writing

ENG 150 Creative Writing

ENG 152 Creative Writing for Nonmajors

ENG 210 Fiction Writing

ENG 211 Poetry Writing

ENG 212 Creative Nonfiction

ENG 213 Journalism

ENG 214 Screenwriting

ENG 218 Writing for the Stage

ENG 277 Writing-Centered Topics courses

ENG 310 Advanced Fiction

ENG 311 Advanced Poetry

ENG 312 Advanced Nonfiction

ENG 314 Advanced Screenwriting

 

One course in contemporary literature        4

(may be double counted with major requirements)  

Total credits for the Minor:  22-26

 

Business Communications Minor

In addition to offering a major in English, the English department also participates in several interdisciplinary minors, including the new Business Communications Minor.

Business Communications

The minor in Business Communications is an interdisciplinary program designed to equip students with the knowledge, abilities, and resources that will enable them to communicate effectively across a wide variety of professional situations. The minor includes courses in English and in Business, and is open to students in any major. Students must take at least two courses in English and two courses in Business, including BUS 220 Principles of Marketing. ENG 397/BUS 397 Internship and one additional course in either English or Business are also required.

*Starred courses have pre-requisites not included in the minor requirements.

Required Course:

BUS 220                    Principles of Marketing*                                           4

Four of the following:

 

BUS 277 / 377    Special Topics in Marketing*     4

BUS 320        Consumer Behavior*                        4

BUS 323        Digital Marketing*                            4

BUS 326        Social Media Marketing*                  4

BUS 337        International Marketing*                 4

BUS 375        Marketing Management*                  4

ENG 200        Professional Writing                         4

ENG 201        Public Writing                                    4

ENG 212        Creative Non-Fiction*                        4

ENG 213H        Journalism*                                      4

ENG 277        Writing-Centered Topics Courses*   4

ENG 312        Advanced Creative Writing*             4

 

Experiential Learning:

ENG 396/397 or BUS 396/397: Participation in an internship related to the minor during the student’s academic career (2-4 credits),

*Course may not be double-counted for both major and minor.

Total credits for the minor: 22-24

Other courses may be recommended for students, including ART 112A (Digital Imaging), ART 244 (Creative Imaging), PSY 347 (The Psychology of Persuasion), and MAT 120 (Statistics), among others.

Danielle Conway Discusses the Importance of Compassion in the Rule of Law

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Dean Danielle Conway addressed a full auditorium on the rule of law and why it matters more than ever

Dean Danielle Conway from the University of Maine School of Law was recently welcomed to a full auditorium at UMF to discuss the rule of law and why law matters in society today.

Political Science professor Jim Melcher introduced Conway as “one of the most interesting lawyers I’ve ever met,” applauding her diverse experiences, including 27 years of service in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves, and the National Guard.

Standing before the attentive crowd in a dark red suit, Conway opened her talk by claiming, “one could call my belief in law religious.” Her eyes scanned the audience in momentary silence; “I hope I can convince you to also have strong beliefs by the time I’m done.”

Conway defined the rule of law as restricting arbitrary use of power by channeling it through well defined and established laws. Everyone, from individuals to institutions, are held accountable under rule of law.

“Laws should be enacted by democratically elected officials and enforced by independent judiciaries,” Conway said. “I believe in this process because it will help protect freedoms and rights.”

According to Conway, our society is facing its biggest challenge yet: widening inequality. This can be seen in our discourse and how it is riddled with tension and strife, from LGBTQIA rights to land disputes and indigenous rights. The core of Conway’s argument is that rule of law is ineffective if it does not serve everyone, including those who cannot defend themselves. This means that rule of law should consider both individual freedoms and peoples’ rights, as opposed to one or the other.

“Law drives our society and many facets of it,” Conway answered when asked how rule of law can protect both freedoms and rights without impeding on one another. “[Law determines] where we can be, what technology and resources we can use, etc. Laws use certainty and stability to help create an organized society. Law creates power, and we need to use that power with compassion and sentiment. By not embracing compassion in rule of law, you rob people of the 14th amendment.”

Conway’s interactions with audience questions opened discussion on this point further; the 14th amendment states that all people born and/or naturalized in the United States are thereby citizens of the country, and no state may deprive any citizen of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Conway shared an experience in which she was arrested in New York for no reason, and her lawyer was able to help her arrange a plea bargain that allowed her to avoid jail time. Such an outcome is rare, especially for an African-American woman.

“Am I protected because rule of law exists for someone who needs it? Yes I am,” Conway said. “Because I have privilege, I now put my money where my mouth is and stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.”

“A lawyer’s value is in her power to make the law accessible to those not in the legal system,” Conway argued. “A lawyer who has seen injustice will stand up.”

Conway did acknowledge that it is difficult to view law objectively, and that very few benefit from viewing law as such.

“I’ve met Justices [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg and [Antonin] Scalia. Their belief systems are informed by their experiences, just like my own,” she noted.

Despite her criticisms of laws and their implementation (and law in general), Conway loves the law, going so far as to say that she “romanticizes” it. Law can be coercive and legitimize toxic behaviors such as racism, but when utilized with compassion and sentiment, it can be transformed and become protection for those who can’t protect themselves.

“I am a patriot,” Conway declared as she closed the discussion out. “I believe in what America has been and what it can be.”