• “And the Word was God”: rejection, consideration, and incorporation of spiritual motivations in modernist literature

      Boyle, Katherine R. (2021-05)
      As existing scholarship demonstrates, the modernist period in literature (during the first half of the twentieth century) is generally considered to be a period marked by rationality, secularity, and persistent atheism. With the technological advances of the 1900’s, revolutions in science (such as the work of Charles Darwin), and new political priorities that valued dearly the separation of church and state, it is generally thought that the motifs and commitments of traditional, organized religion were long gone, especially within the literary world. In this project, I set out to demonstrate the ways in which three modernist authors – E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and Jorge Luis Borges – reimagine and reincorporate, in their literature, traditional religious motivations. Specifically, I will examine how the “word” of God (exalted in Judeo-Christian doctrine) is utilized and examined by the three authors in order to imagine a new code of significance for language and communication during modernism. With this, I hope to demonstrate the ways in which the modernist period was not simply a rejection or forgetting of a more orthodox religious tradition, but a reimagination and relocation of spiritual experience within interpersonal communication and linguistic ecstasy.
    • The westernization of the night sky: a study of indigenous astronomy and sky culture

      Perles, Zoe Kaya (2021-12)
      When we examine the night sky and consider the history and progression of science and astronomy, we observe the sky through a specific cultural lens. Contemporary understandings and interpretations of the sky and of science have been distorted by the biases of Western European history and culture. Consequently, indigenous astronomy has been eradicated, depreciated, forgotten, and omitted from the historical record. After thousands of years of colonization and the purposeful destruction of indigenous cultures, much knowledge of indigenous astronomy has been lost. However, the knowledge that has been preserved is extraordinary. A study of the methods and strategies of astronomical observation developed by indigenous civilizations and the roles that astronomy served within indigenous societies crafts a compelling argument about the validity, sophistication, and value of indigenous astronomy and sky culture. With that knowledge, we can then consider the drastic repercussions of the erasure of indigenous astronomy and why it is essential that we incorporate indigenous knowledge into modern understandings of science and astronomy.