Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Prelims and Feminists and Desserts, Oh My!

After constantly going over the general concepts of each philosopher with Jenna and Tamilyn, I felt prepared for today's preliminary exam. To be absolutely sure we knew the most important aspects, Jenna and I went over them this morning while we were walking to RPCC, while we ate breakfast, and while we were walking to class. We arrived at approximately 8:35 AM, so I took the opportunity to review just a little more. It seems excessive, I know, but I wanted to prepare as much as possible. Promptly at 9 AM, Professor Kramnick entered the room and began passing out the test booklets and questions; the exam commenced.

We had one hour and ten minutes to complete a forty minute essay and answer five out of eight short answer questions. Out of the three essay prompts provided for us to choose, I selected the one which asked, "Why and under what conditions should the ruled obey their rulers?" It was required that we utilize the arguments of at least three philosophers; I chose Augustine, Plato, and Locke because I believed that I could compose a more adequate answer to the prompt with their theories. The short answer section was more concise since we only needed to identify the source of the given quotes and terms and explain their significance to the philosopher's overall ideology. Once Professor Kramnick called for us to turn in our exams, I was finishing the last sentence of my fifth answer and was able to complete the test in its entirety. An interesting thing I learned about this college-leveled test is that the students have more freedom as to how they allocate their time during each section; once again, knowing how to manage your time is important in every aspect of college.

Once we returned from a fifteen minute break, Professor Kramnick resumed his lecture on the origins of feminism. Liberal rights (i.e. to life, liberty, and property) and democratic rights (i.e. voting) implicitly excluded certain groups of people, like women, the poor, and members of racial minorities until the late 18th century. The three philosophers who founded the feminist movement were Marie Olympes de Gouges, Mary Wollstonecraft, and John Stuart Mill. All three feminists advocated for the extension of liberal rights to women. Wollstonecraft insisted that there is a false system of education, which only teaches young girls useless activities to prepare them for their domestic duties as wives and mothers. Going a little further, Mill argued that the subordination of women is caused by society's assumptions of women to be inferior by nature as well as men's use of their social and political power to keep women in subordinate positions.

During discussion, we reflected on society's current views of gender equality and if the three feminists would be pleased with how society is today. Unfortunately, there are several instances that prove that the assumptions of men and women are still maintained. For example, the idea of a stay at home dad and the bread winner being the mother is still an usual household quality that most people do not find ideal. Despite all the social evolution the world has endured for centuries, I find it utterly disappointing that backward  societal assumptions are still etched into our minds.

I could not pass up the opportunity to take a rare photo of Cornell during a beautiful  sunset
Around 6:30 PM, my cohort and I met with Mr. Chan-Law to discuss our weekend plans. After eating dinner, I returned to my dorm room and continued tonight's reading assignments; since many of us had to study for the prelim, Nolan allowed for us to spend tonight catching up on the reading. I took a quick break by visiting the lounge with Jenna, where an international desserts event was being held.
The last of the international deserts

Oddly enough, it was only thirty minutes after the event began and nearly all of the food was gone. I was fortunate enough to retrieve the last of the cannolis, marble brownies, and fried dough puffs. It was nice to enjoy different types of food, especially since the chances of me eating them again in the future are unlikely.

When I first arrived in Ithaca, I did not believe I would ever get used to the idea of living in a dorm, meeting new people, or the fact that I am taking a college-leveled course! However, as the second week is coming to an end, I find myself becoming accustomed to my summer college routine. I am beginning to have the confidence that I can endure college life next year.

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