Alvernia Faculty

Apr 7


Weekly Thought Snack: To This Day is a collaborative animated short in which animation and motion artists applied their unique styles to 20-second portions of the Shane Koyczan poem. The meaningful work speaks to concepts of acceptance and love, bullying and exclusion, beauty and voice. Enjoy.

April is National Poetry Month. Weekly thought snacks will highlight animated poetry.

Celebrate and support the creative arts!

- Caroline (Carrie) Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.

Remembering Vincent Van Gogh, Born March 30, 1853


Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh


Weekly Thought Snack: Vincent Van Gogh was a troubled man. Although he died at the young age of 37, many individuals have been influenced by his artistic vision and tragic life.

Song: Vincent by Don McLean

Starry, starry night


[Click headline to read full post.]

OED Adds Interesting Mix of Advantageous & Absurd Words to the English Lexicon

The OED, Oxford English Dictionary, announced 900 new additions this week.

"Here is a selection of other terms that are now appearing in the OED for the first time:

bathroom break (n.): a short period of time within the duration of an activity (often of a prescribed or limited duration) taken to use the toilet.

beatboxer (n.): a performer who uses (amplified) vocal effects to imitate the sounds and rhythms of hip-hop music.

bestie (n.): a person’s best friend; a very close friend.

bookaholic (n.): a habitual and prolific reader; a compulsive book buyer.

crap shoot (n.): a situation or undertaking regarded as uncertain, risky, or unpredictable.

c*ntish (adj., coarse slang): nasty, highly unpleasant; extremely annoying.

dead white male (n.): a dead Caucasian male writer, philosopher, etc., whose pre-eminence is challenged as disproportionate to his cultural significance, and attributed to a historical bias towards his gender and ethnic group.

DIYer (n.): A person who engages in do-it-yourself activities; an amateur (in construction, repair, etc.).

do-over (n.): an instance or chance of doing something for a second or further time, after an unsuccessful or unsatisfactory first attempt.

honky-tonker (n.): a person who owns, works in, or frequents a cheap, sleazy bar or nightclub, typically one where country music is played.

scissor-kick (v): to perform a kick which involve a scissor-like motion of the legs, as in swimming or soccer.

wackadoodle (adj.): crazy, mad; eccentric.”

To read more about the additions, visit the Time article Oxford English Dictionary Adds ‘Bestie,’ ‘Crap Shoot,’ ‘Bathroom Break’ by Katy Steinmetz at .
Celebrate the beauty and ridiculousness of the English Language! - Caroline (Carrie) Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.

Mar 5

Barbie on Cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

Via: Erin Way, psychology

You have probably heard that this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition will be graced by Barbie. This collaboration between a company that markets a toy with a body that is impossible to achieve to young girls and a company that objectifies women’s bodies is evidence that the media’s portrayal of women is still a huge problem. As I have heard and seen more about this, I am pleased to know that many groups are speaking out against the current edition and recognizing the likely implications for how young girls… and boys… perceive themselves and what it means to be female. I am also disturbed by the recent statement Mattel released in response to the criticism. Senior Vice President of Marketing for North America, Lisa McKnight reportedly stated “We’re always challenging ourselves to think differently about Barbie and how we can continue to keep her relevant” (Elliot, 2014). In my opinion, making Barbie irrelevant is the best outcome for our future generations of girls.

» Read more in the NY Times:

Mar 5

Perspectives on Contemporary Religious Identity: Who Defines the Other?

(Presented Spring 2013 as part of a panel discussion at the EASA and the MAR-AAR Regional Meetings)

James Siburt Ph.D. Candidate, Adjunct Faculty Alvernia University, Asst. Director and Adjunct Faculty Eastern Mennonite University

Americans are bombarded daily by conflicting definitions of who we are, who we ought to be, or the definition of others. Through every conceivable form of communication–television, film, literature, magazines, music, graphic novels, news outlets–the symbolic aspect of the other is being defined by dominating culture. These defined aspects–gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, class, body image, political, religious–play a major role in the cultural hegemony of American society. This panel will attempt to examine one of these defined aspects, religion, and offer several perspectives on the image being portrayed, the sources through which these aspects are perpetuated, and the ethical issues that result in the portrayed aspect being accepted as the norm.

Questions to consider.
1. What do we each mean by the “other?” How has the other been defined for us?

2. Where does religion come into play with the definition of other? Are there ethical issues in this otherness?

3. How is this otherness perpetuated? From within and without; tension between self identity or forced identity; power dynamics

All ethical norms marginalize someone. There exists a constant tension between the same and the other. My understanding of the other has been experiential and transcendental, as well as academic. The works of Foucault and Bourdieu have formed an understanding between the same and the other that emphasizes the disparity between the oppressed and those in position of power and authority. Levinas formed for me the idea that if we only look for the self, or sameness, in others then we miss what truly makes each person unique. Our goal must be to see all as stranger, alien, and other if we are to even catch a glimpse of what makes them unique and special. Yet I feel the strongest argument for the crisis of otherness is in some fashion caught up in identicalness and oneness. This is where Wittgensteinian logic provides a modicum of understanding, “To say of two things that they are identical is nonsense, and to say of one thing that it is identical with itself is to say nothing” (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 5.5303). No two persons are identical although all persons share connections. Even twins, although they may share external similarities, have unique internal(psychology, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, etc.) qualities. (2.01231) Persons or objects may share similar signs while remaining separate symbols of their own uniqueness. So, to say that A=B is nonsense because if A=B is true then it is A=A or B=B, which is then saying nothing. Yet “signs, [not objects or persons], that serve one purpose are logically equivalent” (5.47321). The collection of signs form the personified symbol that is understood and known as the other, so when these signs serve to point to one understanding then what is symbolized is wrongly understood to be identical, with a semblance of oneness. Though it should never be said that they are one and the same.

We need to briefly shift our discussion away from the uniqueness of the Other to discuss oneness. Wittgenstein stated that for two colors to be in one place in the visual field is impossible. (6.3751) If Yellow and Blue were to occupy the same place in the visual field they would both be replaced by Green and would cease to be two individual colors. Although now uniquely Green they have either achieved oneness or if the pigments are permanently blended they have ceased to exist individually or as they once were known. To the observer Yellow and Blue are now a memory as they have become Other than Blue and Yellow and are now defined as Green. Although the Observe/Judge may say Green is Green, the proposition still defines two different symbols; the proper name and the adjective (3.323). Again, they are not one and the same. Yet, to Yellow and Blue, they have still retained their uniqueness and it is the Observer/Judge/Cultural Hegemony that is perpetuating their oneness. The external perspective signifies Green, while a closer internal examination would reveal Blue and Yellow.

While the sorting nature of humans is intended to make sense of the world, it inadvertently causes harm through marginalization. The applied principle of oneness is practiced by all human beings as it provides us with a sense of belonging. Oneness differs from identicalness through the distinction of the claim of similar or same. A person may believe they are similar to another, they share identical traits, preferences, mannerisms, etc., but they do not claim to be one with this other or the same. Oneness is a more powerful and dangerous form of classification due to the aforementioned marginalization when practiced by those in power. Even the marginalized share some responsibility in its perpetuation as is defined through Foucault’s theory of subjectivication. When the marginalized or the oppressed accept and adhere to a culturally hegemonic identity then they have placed themselves as subject to those in positions of power.

Oneness, in regard to aesthetics and ethics, plays an important, albeit subtle, role in Wittgensteinian logic and its application to our understanding of the Other. In Tracatus Logico-Philosophicus Wittgenstein stated that “ethics and aesthetics are one” or in some translations, one and the same (6.421). In other words what we judge to be pleasing to our senses is deemed good and that which offends our sense we deem as bad. This very point has filled countless books and could fill countless more. When external signs are deemed to be non-aesthetically pleasing then the symbol formed is one that is judged to be unacceptable and even unethical. The uniqueness of this Other separates them from the arbitrators of the ethical and creates a forced aesthetic oneness with the unethical. This aesthetic sorting and marginalization of individuals is a form of power that is perpetuated through a cultural hegemony. This can be clearly demonstrated by how heroes and villains are defined in Western science fiction and fantasy. Those that are defined as evil are signified by non-aesthetically pleasing characteristics, external as well as internal, and actions thus symbolizing the unethical.

In Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings Sauron’s intentions were based on the Wittgensteinian principle of oneness, the One Ring, functioning as an unifier binding others to his will. The applied principle of oneness from this perspective resulted in control. The nine human kings were corrupted and eventually bore similar external appearances. Even though Sauron’s initial plan only partially succeeded, subsequent bearers of The One Ring were warped and changed to Sauron’s likeness, not necessarily in their external characteristics, but in the internal aspects. The taking on the likeness of others, especially powerful deities, is a common trope throughout human mythology. Even the concept of oneness has been portrayed from both a positive and negative perspective. There is power in being aligned with another just as there is power in subjugating others into perceived inferior groupings.

Mar 3

Why do people study classics and English?
That’s easy. Naked statues and dirty stories.
— Daniel Mendelsohn

- It is important to note he was referencing a former classicist professor’s explanation. He was a speaker at the 2014 Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society (via thetragicoptimist)


The Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society is celebrating its 90th Anniversary. I had the opportunity to interview the participants in the film and co-produce this brief video that highlights the essence of the organization and the love of literature, language, and writing. I hope you enjoy the clip, and if you aren’t a member, I hope you consider joining.


- Caroline (Carrie) Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.


For more information about joining the English honor society, please visit



Photo Credit: Andrew Osokins

Weekly Thought Snack: Yes, it’s been a brutal winter.

B R U T A L. 

To dig yourself out of the doldrums of the cold and unforgiving weather, enjoy the beautiful macrophotography of Andrew Osokins and the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It’ll be the creative equivalent of a B12 shot.


By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Out of the bosom of the Air,

      Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,

Over the woodlands brown and bare,

      Over the harvest-fields forsaken,

            Silent, and soft, and slow

            Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take

      Suddenly shape in some divine expression,

Even as the troubled heart doth make

      In the white countenance confession,

            The troubled sky reveals

            The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,

      Slowly in silent syllables recorded;

This is the secret of despair,

      Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,

            Now whispered and revealed

            To wood and field.

To enjoy more of Andrew Osokins Macrophotography, visit 

Celebrate the creative arts in word and image!

- Caroline (Carrie) Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.

Feb 4

Winter's Promise



“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.” ~Andrew Wyeth Art Credit: Baleen by Andrew Wyeth Weekly Thought Snack: As we experience yet another week of frigid temperatures and cabin fever, try to remember that without the winter the spring would not feel as warm nor smell as sweet. Take time to recognize the potential lying dormant within all things and all people. Support creative expression and quiet contemplation! - Caroline (Carrie) Fitzpatrick, Ph.D. To appreciate more of Andrew Wyeth’s art, please visit

I try not to think too much when I’m writing. I try my best to listen. To feel my way through the heft of a single word, through its shape, the sound it makes, even the spaces between words. I try to hear and then try to speak to what I think I hear and to see what I wouldn’t otherwise see and say. I think that’s what goes on when I write but I can’t be certain.

- Peter Markus (via mttbll)