I have worked on the Mutter Museum’s upcoming exhibit on the 1918 Influenza Epidemic for my senior capstone project. My capstone has unfolded in several stages, and my work on this exhibit is not complete. I will continue to work on this project at the Mutter Museum while in college. I learned about the Museum’s upcoming exhibit selection in the fall of 2016. I wanted my capstone to utilize the the College of Physicians of Philadelphia’ resources and synthesize my years of learning at the Mutter, and I wanted my capstone to be an interdisciplinary project. My coordinator at the Mutter Museum helped me to brainstorm capstone project ideas. Eventually, I decided to compose and score a soundtrack for the 1918 Influenza Pandemic exhibit.
I did a lot of research on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. I studied in the College of Physicians Medical Library and learned about the nature of Spanish Flu and how it devastated the United States between 1918 and 1919, taking almost 14,000 Philadelphian lives in just six weeks of those years. To further my knowledge of infectious diseases, I studied some of the other most devastating diseases of history, such as the Smallpox Epidemic of 1775, and their impact in the United States. Then, I researched the music of the era. At this point in the process, I knew that I could not complete a soundtrack to the exhibit in this year; the exhibit is still in the most preliminary stages of its development and nobody is really sure how the exhibit will appear in 2019. However, I will continue to be a part of the process of the exhibit, and my research has taught me a lot about the Flu Pandemic and about museum curation.
Here is a link to a research and process paper that I wrote on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and the process of museum curation: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wgy8JTJ8blLfSYPKgsvuFWsaxmtGw2Y2MHkKgo1PM6A/edit
Bristow, Nancy K. American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
I have used, and will continue to use, this source as my basis for understanding the 1918 flu epidemic. I found this book in the College of Physicians Library and later in the Free Library of Philadelphia. Its introduction is in first person from the author’s perspective and explains that the author was inspired to write this book after learning about her family’s history in the epidemic. The book provides a comprehensive view on the epidemic but focuses through the lens of social implications and classes. The book dedicates several chapters to the discussion of race, gender, and social class, and how these elements of society changed during and after the epidemic. It is an enjoyable read.
Barry, John M. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. New York: Viking, 2004.
This book is useful in that it discusses the influence of influenza around the world and influenza in light of the Great War. It also considers the 1918 Influenza Epidemic with respect to future epidemics and modern public health and medicine dilemmas. It does a good job of illustrating exactly how devastating and powerful the epidemic was, as the 1918 epidemic is often overlooked and the Black Death and smallpox epidemics have their place in the spotlight. It is a comprehensive and sobering book. It does not seem to be biased and is a very good source for background research of the 1918 Flu Epidemic.
Willrich, Michael. Pox: An American History. New York: Penguin Press, 2011.
This book has a lot of great information on the history of public health, and in that, often devastating disregard for public health and safety in medicine. The book also discusses bioethics and topics relating to bioethics, like vaccination and individual liberty versus social good and public health. This book analyzes these issues through a social, rather than a medical, lens, making it a good read for those who want to learn about medical history but don’t have much interest in biology or medicine. The book is also very easily readable and well organized.
"The Deadly Virus: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918." National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.
This is a very good compilation of primary source documents from 1918. The collection of letters, memos, and photographs helps to paint a picture of 1918 and lends to better understanding of how the epidemic impacted real people’s lives. The variety of materials also helps to put facts about the 1918 Flu Epidemic in the context of various people’s lives, jobs, and creations. This source is not biased in any way and seems to have the sole goal of bringing these resources to the light of the public and informing them about this devastating and often overlooked period of history.
Boylston, Zabdiel. “An Historical Account of the Small-pox Inoculated in New England, upon All Sorts of Persons, Whites, Blacks, and of All Ages and Constitutions: With Some Account of the Nature of the Infection in the Natural and Inoculated Way, and Their Different Effects on Human Bodies: With Some Short Directions to the Unexperienced in This Method of Practice / Humbly Dedicated to Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales.” 1730. S. Gerrish in Cornhil, T. Hancock at the Bible and Three Crowns in Annstreet. Harvard University Library, Cambridge, MA.
This is a primary source document. It is Zabdiel Boylston’s account of the Smallpox Distemper and is addressed to the Princess of Wales. Though it is about a different epidemic than influenza, it details first-person accounts of some of the first inoculations that were performed in the United States. To understand all of the implications of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, we must consider the history of epidemics in the coutnry and how the public and medical professionals have treated them. Debates on inoculation were long and varied during the Smallpox Epidemic. Vaccination was considered a social boon during the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.
Massey, Edmund. “A Sermon Against the Dangerous and Sinful Practice of Inoculation.” Speech, St. Andrew’s Holborn, July 8, 1722.
This is another primary source document from the era of the 1722 smallpox epidemic. It quotes the Christian Bible and bases its anti-vaccination arguments on religion and Biblical references. Though this sources predates the 1918 Flu Epidemic, some of the controversy of vaccination that is expressed in this source is also expressed in literature from the 1918 Influenza Epidemic and modern conversations about the safety of vaccination. This is an important document to consider when one looks at the history of epidemics and medicine in the United States.
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company, 1997.
This book considers the wolrd history of disease, epidemics, and medicine through the lens of social studies. The book asks big questions regarding who receives resources and who has access to medicine. I have used this source to better understand the current state of health care in the United States and global perception of medicine and health care. It is naive to focus exclusively on the United States and how the 1918 Influenza Epidemic affected it. Through this source, which covers a very wide range of topics and scientific material, I have expanded my knowledge of epidemics across the globe.
Averill, Gage. Four Parts, No Waiting: A Social History of American Barbershop Harmony, 32. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
I used this page of this book to learn more about ragtime chord progressions. It is easiest to learn about the nature of ragtime chord progressions by listening to the music, but especially for a person with limited knowledge of music theory, it is helpful to have chord or note progressions explained in words. Diagrams are also very useful. In ragtime songs, the chords generally progress along a circle of fourths in a pentatonic scale. Variations on this include minor seventh chords and dominant seventh chords. A key part of ragtime songs is syncopation between bass notes and melody. This source clearly and concisely covers ragtime chord progressions.
Various Artists. Hits of the War Year - 1914 - 1918. Reader’s Digest Music, 2012, MP3 album.
I used this source to learn more about the music that was popular during the era of the flu epidemic and the years predating it. Before this, I researched ragtime music and the types of music that were popular at the turn of the century. The songs have funny titles and are about a variety of topics, from women to Irish lullabies to China Town. I used these songs as inspiration for my songs.
Bohlman, Philip V. Europe and North America, 1942-, 157-168. New York: Taylor and Francis Group, 2001.
This source introduced me to ethnomusicology. Through this source, I learned about the specific study of different types of ethnic music. The research technique of ethnomusicologists will be useful to my study of the music of the 1918 era. Ethnomusicology involves studying music and history. Many historical documents and historical locations must be researched to understand certain types of music, but an understanding of music is also required to develop a complete understanding of a genre or type of music. This source comes from the author’s point of view and details the author’s journey in ethnomusicology, but it is still a good introduction to the topic and field of research.
Boyd, Jane. “Spit Spread Death.” Free Panel Discussion, 16 May 2017, Mutter Museum, Philadelphia, PA. Address.
Deviled eggs are an ancient dish that are thought to have originated in Eastern Europe but have grown in popularity and are now consumed all over the world under many different names. Deviled eggs are hard-boiled eggs whose yolks are removed, combined with other ingredients, and then scooped back into the egg whites. My family likes to make deviled eggs to serve as hors d'oeuvres before holiday or birthday dinners. They are very easy to make. Here is a very simple recipe:
Hard-boil six eggs. Cut the eggs lengthwise and remove yolks.
Combine ingredients in a bowl:
6 finely crushed egg yolks
¼ cup of mayonnaise
1 teaspoon of white vinegar
1 teaspoon of yellow mustard
Salt and pepper to taste.
Put about a tablespoon of mixture into each egg half.
This is the most basic deviled egg recipe; there are very many variations of and garnishes for deviled eggs. For example, I use slightly less mayonnaise, spicy brown mustard instead of yellow, and scallions and paprika as garnishes.
Deviled eggs are very neat because they are so easy to make and very nutritious. According to WebMD, “One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids.” Eggs, in pretty much any form, are nutritious and delicious. Deviled eggs are, therefore, a relatively low-calorie and high-protein snack, with the exception of the mayonnaise. One tablespoon of of mayonnaise has a about 94 calories, so about 376 of the calories in the deviled eggs from the recipe above are from mayonnaise. Further, one tablespoon of mayonnaise contains about ten grams of fat, which is 15.4 percent of daily recommended intake, so mayonnaise is a high fat and high calorie ingredient (Livestrong.com). Fortunately, there are many lower calorie mayonnaise substitutes, including vegan mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, and tzatziki sauce. I’ve yet to try any of these substitutes in deviled eggs before, but the beauty of the deviled egg is its versatility and simplicity, so it is a good dish to experiment on. Due to their simplicity, deviled eggs also contain mostly whole rather than processed foods. Mustard, vinegar, and eggs are all whole foods. Though different brands of mustard can be heavily processed, mustard is generally only made from mustard seeds, vinegar, water, and salt. Mayonnaise may be fatty, but it is a pretty simple spread and generally isn’t considered a processed food, especially if organic or not storebought. If I haven’t yet sold you on the beauty of deviled eggs, consider that deviled eggs are also not very hard on the environment. It is easy to buy eggs that are cage-free, organic, and local because they are a staple food, and the impact of deviled eggs’ seasonings on the environment is minuscule.
Music theory is the study of music. Before researching music theory, I researched sound. Sound is an audible mechanical wave, or a wave that is an oscillation of matter, through a medium like air or water. Acoustics, which deals with the study of mechanical waves through different media, is a science that can be applied to architectural acoustics, audio signal processing, musical acoustics, and more.
Music moves in waves. Let’s analyze those waves. Timbre is the perceived tone quality of a specific note that distinguishes notes by the source of their sound production. A complex tone is the sound of a note with a specific timbre. Complex tones consist of many smaller periodic waves sometimes called partials, referred to as “simples tones.” Fundamental frequency is the musical pitch of a note that is perceived as the lowest partial present.
Moving on to pitch and rhythm, the basics of music theory. Pitch is the highness or lowness of a note and rhythm is the sequential arrangement of sounds. Notes can be arranged into scales or modes. In Western music, the octave is divided in twelve tones, called a chromatic scale. In-between notes are called half-steps. Lots of non-Western music features octaves that don’t have equally-divided note division. There are seven main modes, or types of scale, in Western music: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Locrian. Songs generally have a melody and harmony; some have a counterpoint. Melody is the main string of notes that make up a song and a harmony accompanies a melody and is dependent on the melody. Counterpoint is the combination of at least two different melodies to make one song. No melody is dominant; the melodies tend to wind around each other. In chord structure, “consonance” describes notes that sound good together and “dissonance” describes notes that do not sound good together. Consonance and dissonance are very subjective measures of sound quality. Time signature measures rhythm or meter. Rhythms can be simple or complex. Complex rhythms include things like syncopation, or rhythms with accent notes in places that you would not expect them to be, and polyrhythm, or multiple rhythms layered over one another.
The study of acoustics is important in many other scientific fields and disciplines. Acoustics impact everyone. Humans can generally hear sound wave frequencies from 20 to 20,000 Hz. High noises bother many people. Architects must always be aware of the acoustics of buildings.
Everyone listens to music, but few people that aren’t musicians give much thought to the composition of music. Scientists aren’t certain of the impact of music on the human brain, but studies have shown that some people have an easier time remembering and recalling information if the information is set to music or if they listen to music while studying and then listen to the same music while trying to recall the information. Perhaps research will eventually show some stronger correlation between music and information retention, or even determine which music helps people remember information most effectively.
I like music and am a musician. I like music theory. This project forced me to jog my memory on a lot of music theory concepts. Schoolhouse Rock songs helped me to remember multiplication tables and grammar rules as a kid, so I’m curious about the impact of music on memory. I was disappointed to find few concrete conclusions on the topic, but I hope to keep researching.
Janus, S. (2016). Audio in the 21st century. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from eetimes.com, http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1274790
Khan Academy: Music Basics. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from khanacademy.org, https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/music/music-basics2#reading-music2
Van Dillen, O. (2011). Outline of Basic Music Theory. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from oscarvandillen.com, http://www.oscarvandillen.com/outline_of_basic_music_theory/
Labyrinth, released in 1986, is an adventure fantasy film detailing the story of a 15 year old girl, Sarah, rescuing her baby brother, Toby, from the clutches of Jareth the Goblin King. The movie is weird and occasionally cringe-worthy for such a star-studded film (including David Bowie, Jim Henson, George Lucas, Terry Jones, and drawing inspiration from Brian Froud), but it is widely beloved and has received cult popularity in many cultural circles.
The movie features a strong, independent female lead that develops and has her own narrative arc. For these reasons, I think that Labyrinth passes the Mako Mori test. However, arguably, Sarah’s narrative arc is dependent on rescuing her baby brother, restricting the film from passing the third criterion of the Mako Mori test, but in my opinion, Toby is not effectively a character and does not have his own story arc, so this is a null point. Further, Labyrinth does not pass the Bechdel Test, as Sarah has a conversation with only one unnamed female character (in the beginning of the movie, Sarah has a conversation with her unnamed stepmother).
A new anti-gender bias film test
At least one female/non-binary character who
has their own narrative arc that
develops based on at least one proactive, rather than reactive, decision.
Unfortunately, for this review, one must have seen the film being reviewed relatively recently to remember plot points. I think that Labyrinth meets this test because Sarah decides on her own to follow Jareth and save her brother, as long as we’re assuming that Labyrinth passes the Mako Mori test.
This is my second advanced essay. I chose to write about literacy in music after brainstorming about which skills have lead me to competency in school. At the end of the day, understanding of music has made me a more creative and dedicated student, so wouldn't you know it, that’s what you’ll be reading all about! My greatest challenge while writing this essay was refining my thesis. In fact, my thesis didn’t manifest itself in words until after I had written a couple of scenes of memory and collected outside quotes. I am proud of my utilization of evidence from personal experience and research to support my thesis. I’m also proud of my collaboration with peers; I found things to look out for in my own essay by editing peers’ essays. In the future, I would like to spend more time connecting paragraphs seamlessly with fluid transitions.
“Literacy” has multiple definitions. While the conventionally accepted definitions of literacy are, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “the ability to read and write; knowledge that relates to a specified topic,” literacy in a subject is often more complex than knowledge base, and to be literate in a topic often requires more than just comprehension. To be literate in music is to learn through music. Many people consider themselves auditory learners. Many others love music and have immersed themselves in music from young ages; these people tend to come from families that value music. All of these types of people learn about life through music, whether they use music as a teaching tool or inadvertently gain knowledge from music; because of the benefits of literacy in music, music should be taught to kids from a young age. Music is appreciated in almost all cultures and societies. Conversely, when programs must be cut in school districts in the US, music programs are often decimated and severely undervalued. There must be more advocacy for music programs in the country because literacy in music aids in becoming literate in many other subjects.
I first learned about my own literacy in music at a young age. I have a knack for memorizing song lyrics, and my ability to learn and remember words attached to music has helped me become the reader and thinker that I am today. Kelsey Tarbert from Oneota Reading Journal, in reference to a study done by Wiggins in 2007, writes “Whereas finding fluency in speaking poetry takes practice, music has the rhythm built into it. The score tells students which notes and syllables to stress and which to make longer or shorter. Performing a text in this manner can help students figure out how to do this for non-musical texts without teacher instruction. Both vocabulary and rhymes have a place within literacy and music, and these skills help students become effective language users.” In third grade, I memorized my multiplication tables with Schoolhouse Rock songs. It struck me as shocking when my third grade teacher had to pull me aside during a test on multiplication tables. I was a good student. I immediately felt panic course through my veins; I assumed that I was about to be accused of cheating or that I had broken some other rule. Instead, my teacher politely told me, “Eva, you’re humming and singing the multiplication tables. You have to quiet down.” It dawned on me that Schoolhouse Rock’s ridiculously catchy “Three is a Magic Number” had been stuck in my head throughout the week. My personal experience certainly serves as evidence to support Wiggins’ study; music helps children to remember and understand concepts that they may otherwise have had trouble grappling with.
In my education and in my life, music has played a pivotal role in my understanding of many ideas. Multiplication tables are just one example. As well as helping me to memorize important facts for school, music has helped me to learn about beauty, love, and ultimately, what it means to be human.
One of the first times where words struck me as beautiful was while listening to the Beatles’ song “In My Life” when I was a little kid. My dad carefully helped me place the record of Rubber Soul on our turntable. I turned the volume down, pressed my ear against the smooth, brushed wood of the stereo, and let the Beatles’ voices swim through my head. The fourth track of side B came on and John Lennon crooned “there are place I remember all my life, though some have changed; some forever, not for better; some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments with lovers and friends I still can recall; I know I’ll often stop and think about them. In my life… I love you more.” I quickly fell in love with the lyrics; in my mind, they were the epitome of perfect lyricism. I felt that no expression of love or sentiment about life had ever been so beautifully and eloquently delivered. The meaning I attached to this song’s words and the feeling that it filled me with still strike me with pangs of nostalgia and joy when I listen to the song, and I’ll never forget the epiphany of attaching emotion to words. This marked a beginning of learning about emotions through music.
Besides interpreting my own emotions, music has taught me how to empathize with others, because as I’ve gotten older, music has required me to attempt to understand different cultures and different people. In this way, people that are literate in music learn how to perceive the world around them differently. People that listen to music that is bold and vivid in its lyricism about political and social issues learn about these issues and, ideally, become more vocal about the issues; music encourages people to revel with each other in their shared humanity. When people become literate in music at young ages, they will find that music is an outlet and a tool for learning, thinking, and self expression.
Despite all of these benefits of literacy in music, ranging from basic cognitive skills to developing empathy for others, music education is poorly funded. Nick Rabkin, a senior research scientist at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, says, “I think the biggest reason for [the cutting of arts education] has to do with a misconception about the cognitive value of the arts. That for the most part, people think about the arts as things that are effective and expressive, but not academic and cognitive.” From my literacy in music and my research, it can be concluded that teaching music and encouraging literacy in music must be encouraged in schools and in households. Literacy in music helps people to read the word and the world.
"Despite White House Report Advocating Arts Education, Budgets Face Cuts | UCIRA." Ucira.ucsb.edu. University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
Tarbert, Kelsey. "Learning Literacy through Music." Oneota Reading Journal. Luther College & Deborah Public Library, n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
Artist's Statement: Children's Book/PSA (Digital Story Alternative)
Instead of creating a digital story, I chose to create a children's book/PSA to spread the messages conveyed in my essay. I took this route because I had no interest in using a video modality to express an argument, but I was intrigued by how I might express an argument by utilizing visuals and short sentences. There isn't much on each page of my story. This was a deliberate choice; I wanted white space with graphic text and line drawings to catch a viewer's eye. I believe that the central argument of my thesis is hammered in my illustrations. The series of pictures creates a sense of urgency to act to improve musical education for literacy in music, and there is an homage to a scene of memory from my essay (the child imagining multiplication tables is an excerpt of personal experience). Overall, I think that my alternate mode of storytelling is effective, but I might have liked to spruce the illustrations up with handy-dandy, super-duper collage.