2013-2014 Brace Fellows Selected, Will Present at Coeducation Celebration

The Brace Center for Gender studies named five Brace Center Student Fellows who will present at the 40th anniversary of the merger of Abbot and Phillips Academies. Isabel Bolo ’14, Graham Johns ’14, Mayze Teitler ’14, Alex Westfall ’15 and Ben Yi ’14 have all been chosen for the 2013-2014 school year.

Except for Yi, all the Student Fellows are researching an aspect of the arts. Though the choice was not intentional, the Brace Center hopes this will allow for more flexibility outside the original lecture-based format, according to Diane Moore, Director of the Brace Center.

The Brace Center opened in 1996, and has been accepting Student Fellows since its founding. “As is true every year, the Fellows bring us all fresh perspectives and ideas about the multiple ways that gendered assumptions function in societies,” Moore said.

The Fellows were announced last Tuesday by the Brace Advisory Board, which consists of Moore, Tony Rotundo, Instructor in History and Social Science, Catherine Tousignant, Instructor in English, Flavia Vidal, Instructor in English, Linda Griffith, Dean of CAMD, John Rogers, Dean of Studies, Frank Tipton, CAMD LGBTQ Advisor, Paul Cernota, Instructor in Chemistry, and Maggie Jackson, Associate Director of Graham House.

Isabel Bolo ’14:

“The Role of Women in Conducting”

Bolo will research the role of women in orchestra conducting and composition, as there is only one female conductor working in the top 20 orchestras in the country, according to Bolo.

Bolo plans to research by using Phillips Academy as a case study, though she does not currently see a gender disparity within orchestras. “I’m interviewing alumni who have gone into conducting, and I’ll ask them how things changed from Phillips Academy to college and the real world,” Bolo said.

“I’ve been a musician since I was six years old; it’s a huge part of my life, and I realized that I’ve never been under a female conductor that was the main conductor,” Bolo said. She was further encouraged to apply after seeing the Brace presentation of her proctor, Jing Qu ’13, on women in journalism.

Graham Johns ’14:

“U.S. Stigmas Against Male Dancers”

Johns will focus on the public perception of male ballet dancers, starting in 1800s with the era of romantic ballet and continuing to current day, using Phillips Academy as a case study.

“I’m researching how stigma affected male dancers at Phillips Academy, and how they were viewed and whether that held true to stereotypes, or it countered it,” Johns said.

Johns’s idea stems from his experience as a dancer on campus after he witnessed the lack of appreciation for male dancers.

Johns will research at the New York Public Library and on campus with Stephanie Aude, Instructional Librarian.

Mayze Teitler ’14:

“The Portrayal of Negative Gender Stereotypes in Video Games”

After seeing the depiction of women in her friends’ video games, Teitler decided to research the negative portrayals of women in videogames and their psychological effects on the children who play them.

“If you’re playing a game that’s targeted towards boys, the female characters are highly sexualized, and unrealistically so. So it’s not good for either the boys or girls to see those roles, because it enforces the stereotypes that we’re trying to break down as a culture,” Teitler said.

Teitler plans to read scholarly texts about the psychological effects of video games in addition to playing the most popular games herself and analyzing the depiction of characters in a feminist-critical context.

Alex Westfall ’15:

“The Rise of Women in Comedy”

Westfall will research the role that women currently play in comedy, and how they have risen in the realms of both sketch comedy and stand-up comedy.

Westfall had thought about the theme of women in comedy, previously, but decided to apply for Brace Scholar after hearing comments during the gender debate on campus. “I heard people saying, ‘the president has to be funny and girls aren’t funny,’ so I thought that this topic would apply,” Westfall said.

Westfall plans to go to New York City and interview female comedy writers and actors about their experiences in the business. She will also read books and autobiographies of female comedians.

Ben Yi ’14:

“A Post-Merger Study of Gender at Andover”

Yi will research the merger between Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy, continuing the project started by Rachel Murree ’14 and Annika Neklason ’14, two fellows from this year. His project is the only one that is not part of the larger theme of the arts.

“I want to continue where those two stopped off, studying the immediate effects of the merger on students and faculty at Phillips Academy and maybe compare the mergers of other schools at the time,” wrote Yi in an e-mail to The Phillipian.

Yi came up with the idea after listening to Murree and Neklason’s project. He was interested after learning about the nature of the merger, which was more of a “takeover” than a merger, he said.

Yi will review the Phillips Academy archives and read about the feminist movement of the 1970s.