Students present at 2019 Duke Colloquium

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On April 26, classes on the campus of William Jewell College halted as over 50 Jewell students presented their artistic and research projects at the 2019 David Nelson Duke Colloquium.

Each year, Jewell collectively pauses for a day in April to exhibit the academic pursuits that students have achieved over their time at the College. This is a day where family, friends and faculty can formally recognize student achievement as well as a day where students get valuable experience presenting academic work in front of an audience.

The day is split into three sessions and included a special session from Jewell’s student art magazine, Inscape.

Harper Vincent, senior Oxbridge: History of Ideas and English major, gave a presentation titled “Towards a Relational and Moral Theory of Personhood.” Vincent first discussed the basis of her research into personhood, detailing her usage and interpretation of philosophers and academics such as Daniel Dennett, John Locke, Rene Descartes and Tom Kitwood.

It is these authors Vincent used to develop a unique thesis which identifies relationality, not rationality, as a critical component of personhood. Vincent asserted that relationality is split into two categories, maximal personhood, and minimal personhood. Maximal is an individual who has the ability to reason, has second-ordered desires and can be a subject and giver of moral judgment. Minimal, on the other hand, describes an individual who is capable of meaningful moral interactions.

What all of this means is that personhood is effectively limited to those with the ability for moral decision making, establishing Vincent’s theory as a moral one.

Sophomores Madison Carroll, Oxbridge: Institutions and Policy and international relations major, and Catherine Dema, Oxbridge: History of Ideas and physics major, gave a philosophy-based presentation entitled, “A Beauvoirian Analysis of Masculinity.”

Here they adopted the lens of existentialism to analyze the writings of Simone de Beauvoir beside Micheal Kimmel’s “Guyland.” Understanding that femininity transcends biology, they identified how masculinity is, itself, homosocial. Kimmel helped them uncover the underlying cultural assumptions of masculinity where they found cultures of entitlement, silence and protection.

This analysis identifies how women can empower themselves and men can temper themselves in order to change the historical objectification of women allowing them to become true subjects.

In an afternoon session, senior Anna Borgert, history and English major, gave her presentation, “Reconstruction of Identity: An Exploration of the Gender and Religion of the 18th Dynasty Pharaoh Hatshepsut.” This project uncovered Hatshepsut’s history.

To become Pharaoh, Hatshepsut actively emphasized her royal bloodline. In a religion of Kingship, the king dictates the divine bloodline but it was typically only a gift granted to men to be Pharoah. Hatshepsut changed that and took many interpretations of gender throughout her life. For a time, she was painted as a woman Pharaoh but after the celebration at the Sed Festival which denotes 30 years of reign – although it is likely Hatshepsut did not base this festival on 30 years of her own reign – Hatshepsut was never painted as a woman but always as a man.

Senior Ethan Hawn, political science major, also presented his research presentation, “Harry Truman and the State Department: America’s Departure from an Anti-Colonial Policy in Indochina.”

Hawn discussed how following President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death, Harry Truman was ushered into the White House with just three months of Vice President experience. In the midst of this was a large dispute involving the United States, Britain and France concerning colonial re-occupation of Indochina.

Roosevelt took an anti-colonialist stance on the issue and Truman was likely to follow in the footsteps of Roosevelt in most areas. Hawn goes on to show how conflicting state department memos led to infighting in the United States and Truman eventually supporting re-occupation, believing this was Roosevelt’s prerogative.

These presentations are but a sample of all the academic work displayed at the Colloquium this year.

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