Final Post: Updated ILC Description, Self Eval, PowerPoint, Final Research Report

Updated ILC Description:

This independent study project, created for and within the Student Originated Studies: Commodification Processes and Alternatives program, will study aspects of social justice, gender and sexuality, and political economy, with additional connections to the culture and politics of food and eating through the learning objective evidenced by the question, why is it important to study social justice and community relationship building? The student will work in an Internship with the Trans and Queer Center to research Trans and Queer centered spaces in higher education. The student will create a portfolio of work documenting their studies during the quarter, as well as writing a reflection paper at the end of the quarter, and creating a literature review for the Trans and Queer Center through their internship. Texts to be utilized in full or part over the quarter include: Racial Indigestion by Kyla Wazana Tompkins, The Chronicles of Winona Laduke: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice by Winona LaDuke, The Secret Financial Life of Food by Kara Newman, Of The People, By The People: The Case For A Participatory Economy by Robin Hahnel, and Becoming A Student Ready College by Tia Brown McNair and Susan Albertine.

Final Narrative Self Eval Wright 1

Zoe Final Presentation on Quarter and Research

Final Research Report

Multiple Narratives, Art, and Social Justice: Quarter Summation Paper


Sarah Williams

End of Quarter Summation Paper

Zoe Wright

Multiple Narratives, Art, and Social Justice.

This aspect of this quarter’s work has been primarily amorphous, and very thought based. It’s something that doesn’t come together as feeling like it’s been work until the last moment, and then you have interesting connections and pieces fit together in ways you didn’t know they would. This quarter has solidified my understanding of how to find connections and find the ways each seemingly disparate subject touches another subject. I started out at the beginning of the quarter with the question “why is it important to study social justice and community relationship building?”. As the quarter has progressed, I’ve broadened my ideas to include why interdisciplinary or unconventional forms of education are important, and why it’s important to pay attention to art, performance, and informal or popular conversations around social justice and education issues. This paper provides a broad answer to these questions through discussions of what I’ve learned through the various conversations I’ve explored over the quarter, and why they have been important to my education and to the way I will consider and act on further education.

I’ve spent much of this quarter paying attention to the various ways people communicate and learn with each other in ways that wouldn’t be traditionally considered learning or getting education. I’ve read portions of the books Of the People, by the People; The Case For Participatory Economy, and Becoming A Study Ready College. I’ve read articles around social justice issues, current events, and the way various communities are building social justice languages and sharing them. I’ve watched videos that take a formal presentation speaking format, such as TED videos, and I’ve watched more personal discussion or satire videos. I’ve talked with people, and I’ve witnessed art and performances. I’ve attended workshops and lectures. I’ve done my best to pay attention to what is happening around me in the world.

One of the big critiques of higher education through colleges and universities is that you end up in a very protected, very homogenous idea bubble. That you don’t get challenged enough to speak with people outside your circle or deal with issues outside your circle, and you can start to expect certain language will be understood by everyone when it will not be. It can create a kind of language barrier.

If you think of highly scientific and technicial positions, there is a lot of jargon that happens within those positions because everyone in that circle will know what that jargon means. But anyone outside of that circle will be guessing or misinterpreting the meaning based on what jargon words mean in other areas. People who can translate jargon into terms anyone can understand, like tech writers, are very important in breaking this language barrier.

One of the workshops I attended was called Debating For Democracy, and was on the topic of framing issues. There were several big takeaways from that day of discussion. Depending on the results you want to achieve, some of the things to keep in mind are starting from the beginning of your issue. You’ve spent years and time and effort thinking about your issue and all its intricacies, but the person you’re speaking about it with likely won’t have, and won’t understand why your issue is important or connected to something they care about if you don’t start from the beginning. You want it to feel like there is tangible action that will make a difference and can be taken, because if everything is too big and too scary, nothing productive can be done. And you want to focus on broad, systemic ideas, rather than individualized or episodic stories. You don’t want to talk about one person who had an unfair experience, you want to talk about why certain people are far more likely to have that same kind of unfair experience in different circumstances.

During another workshop around privilege and recognizing privilege and being aware of privilege dynamics around you, there was a lot of discussion of development. For this workshop we discussed target status and agent status, places where a person is likely to be targeted as outside the norm and with less power, and places where a person is likely to have more power and be within the norm. There’s different ways you can be aware of those dynamics, and you can be aware of them at any point in time in different ways. So a lot of our discussion was on how that awareness of dynamics can work if you know it’s there and can recognize where you are at that particular moment, and where the person you’re talking to is. Because in essence, recognizing those stages was understanding what kind of language you needed to use to have the outcome you wanted. If you were aiming to educate and the person you were talking to is completely ignorant of terms like white privilege or oppression, it’s going to be a very different type of conversation than if they do have a basic understanding of those or other terms.

This is why I’ve found it very important to listen to all kinds of conversation and communication on all levels this quarter, because being aware of the kind of language that’s being used to have conversations on the subject you want to have conversations about is incredibly important.

It’s also why I feel that working on creating more available access to education is important. You want to have any many people getting the opportunities to learn what they want as possible, because that benefits everyone. You want there to be a broad mix of ideas and minds and experiences, on campus or anywhere else, because having to change and adapt your ideas to include others is incredibly powerful to developing messages and ideas that can cut across boundaries and create change. And to me, access to education doesn’t always have to mean access to formal, traditional, higher education as we think of it now. There are many ways to get a very good education that always involved that type of school. New methods of teaching and learning together are being used every day, and technology that provides greater geographical access to people to discuss different ideas with is definitely part that. There is more to education than intellectual book learning.

The book Becoming A Student Ready College is based on the idea that colleges and universities should meet students where they are experientially, rather than wanting students to have already achieved the criteria for being a perfect student. If that kind of model were to take hold, it would create a much greater access to education for a lot more students have it available to them now. However, while this book does briefly mention how your life experiences can impact your educational success, there isn’t a deeper probe at intersectionality, and much of the discussion is centered on very theoretical ideas rather than concrete actions and steps that can be taken. It’s hard because it’s not a model that exists yet, or one that only exists in a few small ways, but it does make it frustrating when all that is being done is thinking about how to think and talking about how to think.

One idea that I have come across during my research project for the Trans and Queer Center this quarter is the idea of a counterspace. In my understanding, it is a safe space that has taken a further step and is used as a foundation of safety and solidarity to put in work on creating social change. I love the idea of a space that is not only a safe place to be and express yourself, but also a place where you can find strength to do the difficult and stressful work that creates change. I’ve discussed at some point over the quarter an experience I think was as close as I have come to experiencing such a place and atmosphere. That was at the dragshow I attended on the night of or day after the Inauguration. The space that show created was very much a place for celebration, for expressions of anger, and for acknowledgment that there would be battles ahead and that this performance and community building time would be part of what would give all of us in that space the power to carry on.

To go in hand with the idea of counterspaces, I’ve experienced several deeply moving performances over the quarter that have created quiet space for reflection and acknowledgment of other’s experiences and the many ways you can share experiences and have different experiences at the same time.

These performances for me have tied into the ideas of media and other forms of representation and creation of multiple narratives. In watching the musical Allegiance you can see how each characters experiences their need to fight for their freedom and their happiness and their lives, and you can see that each character sees each other character’s actions in very different lights based on their own decisions. It was a really powerful and richly potent way to highlight that people may struggle for the same common goal in ways that are entirely opposite each other and perhaps may work against each other because there isn’t the right kind of communication happening. To highlight that way of multiple narratives being powerful and true in such a way was truly beautiful. Because there is danger in having a single narrative that describes an entire people, it’s over simplifying and generally not a good narrative that’s being told. There are few role models and it makes it seem like there are few prospects.

One of the things that I wanted to hold onto over this quarter, was the idea of not discounting the power and message of something just because it is fiction, or just because it is art. There are many conversations to be had over art and fiction’s role in change and social movements, but that it has a role is undeniable. Don’t discount the powerful things you can learn from books, movies, art, and performance.

I have grown up with the somewhat odd sounding idea around me that fiction can have a more potent element of truth than reality can at times. Of course that’s then a discussion on what truth is that’s entirely too complicated and unanswerable for this moment, but still, fiction can distill powerful, expressive ideas from experience.

People make meaning from stories, so just because it’s a story doesn’t mean it shouldn’t make meaning for you. To practice compassion and empathy and powerful emotions around powerful artwork and performance, and remember that those powerful emotions can be carried over into other aspects of your life feels like an incredible benefit.

Fiction can be used to satire and exaggerated things that are wrong, as well as highlighting things that are right. Science fiction, or even fantasy, as ways to critique issues in our society is a very real and fairly frequently used device. Fiction can also form a brilliant place to develop thinking on topics that fall very much in ‘gray areas’ that force your mind to be complicated in the way you make up and develop your morals, ethics, and ideals. With intention fiction can become proponents of intersectionality by exploring diverse, fully fleshed out character’s with identities that are real and include more than one stereotype or trope, or better yet of course are not based on stereotype or trope at all.

In listening to TED Talks about how to work on changing narratives through action, or art, or in certain decisions, in listening to Angela Davis speak live, and then listening to a conversation between her and Toni Morrison about prison and education and the commodification of libraries and knowledge, in reading even part of By The People, For The People, I have found incredible connections between ideas of intersectionality, interdisciplinary diverse types of education, and art, performance, and story.

I feel that everyone should know a little bit and think a little about all of those connections and intricate dynamics. And that if you do, and if you realize you are and you should and you keep doing it, then you’re going to get a pretty good education, whether you’re in a college or not. And because I have that feeling and I’m working to recognize those principles, I’m very satisfied with the work that I have done this quarter, and the connections I have made between informal means of communication and learning, and their importance to formal means of communication and learning.

Final Stretches and Final Products

As I have been working hard on producing the final products of my work over these last two weeks, I will keep this short.

I have written a final paper in summation of my studies around social justice, education, and art which will be posted as project post.

I have written a final report of my research which will be posted as well to the project posts.

I am satisfied with the work that I have done over this quarter, and I am glad to have finally finished these projects and be able to be proud of my results.

Time these weeks have been taken up mostly by final reading, much thinking about writing, and writing. I haven’t had the chance to think of a proper topic to discuss from my week’s musing, as I have done previously because of this incredibly focused work. I believe my final projects will speak for themselves.

Tasting Labs Weeks 8 and 9: Musings on Rebellion.

While this post may be brief, I wanted to take a moment to consider food and taste as rebellion.

Our current society has many rules about what can be eaten and when, and why. Foods and beverages that can alter consciousness are for the most part ‘controlled’. There are age restrictions, circumstance restrictions, etc.

So what about those who drink and eat when they are not supposed to? This could include things so simple as eating cereal for dinner, a minor social oddity, to drinking alcohol while underage, or eating when ritual calls for a fast.

In some ways, the act of rebellious eating is perhaps an act of privilege, because it’s hard to eat something you’re not supposed to when you don’t have access to it at all.

There are many ways that eating as an act of rebellion can be dangerous, such as breaking diets meant to improve health, or drinking or taking drugs while driving. Looking at just a brief moment of what I can think of as a negative act of rebellious eating, there may be more dangerous, negative ways to eat rebelliously than empowering and overall positive ways.

But it is an interesting bit to think about, don’t you think?

I can imagine some ways that eating rebelliously can be positive. Appreciating food from other cultures, if it’s forbidden or stigmatized in your own culture, could be a positive act of rebellion around food. Changing the ceremony around eating, or the company in which eating is done can be a positive act of rebellion, personally or on a larger scale.

Enjoy some end of quarter puzzling on what interesting dynamics there can be when the circumstances where eating becomes rebellion.

As The End of Quarters Do . . . . Wk 8 Reflections

This week has been fairly stressful as I work to get all of the things done that I need to get done before the end of the quarter. I am further behind on work than I would like to be, and there are a few things that I had said I would do if I had time that I will not be able to do, but I think I am still able to do all of the elements that I had included in my ILC.

My research is starting to feel like it is coming together into something interesting and useful, at least as a starting for further research.

I am stressed about getting everything done, but I think I can do it. It won’t be as timely as I was hoping, but the end of quarter snuck up and collided with extra work not only for this program but also for my job and other responsibilities outside of school.

As the end of the quarter nears I feel a bit as I always do, there is a lot of doubt that what I have accomplished is enough or will be good enough, but also knowing that it is the best that I could have done under the circumstances.

Tickets and programs for Rambuctious Iterations #3: The Immigrants
Tickets and programs for Rambuctious Iterations #3: The Immigrants

In addition to running about madly getting things done and amassing large amounts of hours as buffer for week ten, I attended a dance performance at the Cornish Playhouse in Seattle. It was put on by the Spectrum theatre company, cand called Rambuctious Iteration #3: “The Immigrants”.

It was five dances with live music accompaniment from a simple collection of instruments.

The music was composed by different immigrant composers from various places in the world, most of which the US has had conflict or tense relationships with over the years.

We were introduced to the piece by the artistic director of Spectrum who said that many of their works of late had been having political elements and commentary, and this piece also perhaps had subtler political implications.

This dance performance was to quietly stand on its own and say, if we did not have immigrants and their experiences, we would not be able to witness this beauty and art. We would be deprived of their contribution to the arts and our society.

The performances were beautiful and powerful, and it was a really wonderful, intimate experience of being in a small theater with personal talks and questions between each dance as the musicians set up, being able to see the movement of the dancers and the concentration of the musicians. The music was interesting and felt new and fresh.

It was a really wonderful experience, and I really appreciated how well this performance fit into my quarter’s exploration of the connections between education, social justice, and art and theater.

It is the highlight and relaxed part of my week, and I am glad I got to attend even through the business and stress of the rest of the week.

Dynamics and Language Richness: Seminar Writing Week Nine.

ComAlt, Sarah Williams.

Seminar Reading Response Paper, wk 9.

Zoe Wright.

Tompkins selections of chapter 5, Newman chapters 9, 10, & 11.

“But while the Meerrick’s Thread card follows the logic of post-reconstruction racism by recasting black men as criminals, it also draws a clear parallel between eating, purchasing power, and racial power: the white figure has been immobilized by the (advertised) product in order to allow the two black men time to eat.” (Tompkins, 166)

“Also aiding the industry were three new food trends. First was the increase in U.S. consupmtion of traditional Asian soy foods. The Kikkkoman Corporation noticed in the 1950s and 1960s that Americans began eating more often in Asian restaurants. American military men who were part of the Japanese occupation after World War II and who served in Korea came back with a taste for Asian food.” (Newman, 144)

“Klee believes that restoring heirloom quality flavor to standard tomatoes would require a drop in the yield, meaning farmers would only be able to produce perhaps 90 percent of their current crop size. Prices on those tomatoes would also have to rise accordingly. The question is: Will these high-taste, high-quality, and inevitably higher-cost tomatoes sell? Klee, for one, believes they will. ‘Look at craft beers, or what’s happened with coffee, over the past couple of decades,’ he says.” (Handwerk, 2017)

Referenced Article: Brian Handwerk. (2017, January 26). The Quest to Return Tomatoes to Their Full-Flavored Glory | Science | Smithsonian. Retrieved March 3, 2017, from

I chose the lines from Tompkins because I liked the connection of this advertisement to the new form of slavery that sprung up, which was that of criminalizing black people and gaining forced labor from prisoners. I also like the dynamic mentioned about purchasing power, eating, and racial power. I found this dynamic in connection with the note of criminalized black men really rich and thought provoking. I don’t have any conclusions from this interaction, but the language and connections pleased me.

I am always interested in the way cultural trends are formed and how they in turn form other cultural phenomena. This is a really rich piece of writing because it mentions soldiers coming home with new tastes, which is an interesting thing in itself to study. This influenced the taste of the rest of the country and it became something that an industry capitalized on.

I chose these lines from the article about tomato flavor because I think we’ve spoken about flavor versus yield before, and because of the way that producers will not allow flavor to trump production.

Perhaps also mention the paragraphs on page 168 of Tompkins in Seminar, about the ‘famine’ ‘fame in’ dynamic having to do with conquering food and exploiting the foreign body while congratulating themselves on being humanitarian. That is something that I would more appreciate the space of seminar rather than the space of writing to discuss.

Workshops, Workshops, Conversations Galore! Week 7 Reflection


Capitol Dome Flags
Capitol Dome Flags

DSCF0804 DSCF0803

Debating for Democracy by the FrameWorks Institute Syllabus
Debating for Democracy by the FrameWorks Institute Syllabus

This last week has been incredibly busy. I attended the Evergreen Lobby Day at the Capitol, the Debating for Democracy Workshop, and I had an awesome conversation about research questions with my internship supervisor.

The lobby day was really interesting, I wasn’t really sure what it was before I got there, but I’m very happy I got to go. It was put on through the Trans and Queer Center, and a small group of us traveled to the Capitol campus, heard a short presentation by an ACLU representative, a short outline of what bills had been chosen for us to talk to our representatives about that day, and a brief description of what lobbying is when you’re a citizen. Then we visited Representative Steve Kirby, Senator Sam Hunt, the Legislative Assistant to Representative Beth Doglio, and Representative Brian Blake. We talked briefly with each of these people about the chosen bills, did some reflection on the day and what had happened, and headed home. One of my big take aways from the day was that I really want to be able to move through different social spheres when I am out of school and working on my own projects. I want to feel confident to talk with political and authority figures, academics, professionals, and whoever else I need to. Because it’s really important to know that most of the people that seem untouchable or out of reach can be reached, they can be talked to and you can have conversations about important things that you care about. At least it’s easier to create the right circumstances for that to happen than it seems. Whether or not your conversations and input will be entirely considered is a different point, but access is a starting point at least. I want to feel confident enough to talk with anyone I need to, and I want to help make greater access available for more diverse people.

In the Debating for Democracy Workshop on Saturday we learned some techniques on how to frame arguments in a more coherent, positive way. In other words, how to phrase things in a way that there is a sense that something can be done, that it’s a stance on what you’re for rather than what you’re against, and so you’re using facts and statistics in an effective manner. This was a really productive workshop for me, and I found a lot of value in the way things were explained to us.

We did a couple of exercises that came up with some cool results. At one point we were asked to come up with three words that described your advocacy dream team. I pulled some of my favorite words from that exercise: Empathetic, Resilient, Accessible, Diverse, Inclusive, and Informed. In addition to that workshop I had time to think on one of the issues that is important to me, and come up with a little bit more of a solid idea of what I wanted to promote the most, at least on that day.

I was working on the idea of access to higher education, but over the course of the day I decided that interdisciplinary education at all levels is incredibly important. To promote variability, flexibility, in subject and type of education will create far greater access to education to individuals in varying circumstances. I think this is important at all levels of education, from kids to teens, to college or trade school to industry training; I cannot imagine any kind or form of education that would not benefit from connections to other subjects and fields.

I also had a really cool conversation with my internship adviser about how to think about research questions and findings. We talked about why it’s important to note and think about why certain terms come up with results while others don’t, why one aspect of a topic is studied while another is not, or at least not noticeably. We talked about how I was going to account for these observations in my literature review, possibly in the form of some recommended questions for further inquiry, perhaps to include it in the prose discussion or conclusion, for examples. It was a very informative and interesting conversation that brought up a lot of things for me to consider as I am working on my literature review.

In all, I am a bit stressed about the amount of writing and reading I have to get done, but I am not despairing, and I had a very productive week in terms of thinking and working on cool events.

Red Vines Taste Like: — Weeks Six and Seven ‘Tasting’ Reflections

Red vines taste like theatre. Jalapeno Poppers taste like playing Spore on my Ninetendo DS Lite. Wild sage smells like the heat and high desert of Utah where neighbors burned unwanted sage in the summer. Wasabi Peas taste like writing, Andes mints taste like trips to Olive Garden.

These are strong sense memories for me. Nearly every time I taste these foods, I think of these events, or actions. They are strongly associated with each other. The only time I ever ate Red Vines were at dance lessons when I was young, and later during theatre programs when I was in high school. They accompanied the smell of sweat, dust, glitter, and hot lights.

I have a lot of these sense memories, and I don’t remember them until I’m hit with that scent, or taste, or sound. Not all of them are good, but many of them are. I think everyone has them, consciously or not. The traditions of eating certain foods, or certain smells can make you feel a certain way. Maybe that’s part of what it means when it ‘feels like christmas’ or another holiday, the smells and sights are there, and they trigger past memories and feelings.

You long for food you haven’t tasted in a long time, food that reminds you of happy times, of family, or special memories.

Sense memories make up or supplement traditions surrounding food and scents.

It’s really fascinating to think that a simple whiff of a certain smell of a food can bring you in your mind to an entirely different place in time.

This was brought up in class briefly during on of the tea tastings over the last two weeks, and I thought it was a really interesting dynamic to explore. Some of my sense memories are so strong and immediate they’re startling, some are subtler. When I’ve smelled the different teas, I’ve been brought back to being a child with my dad and smelling his tea. It smelled so familiar and comforting, but at the same time, when I tasted the tea itself, it only tasted like that scent for a moment.

My dad drinks a lot of tea, and has for as long as I can remember. But the way he made tea is very different than the way the tea we have been tasting is made. I don’t know the chemistry of it, but I know it’s a lot less precise, but very precisely the way my dad wants it to be. There’s a much smaller amount of tea to water and it’s typically brewed longer. My dad knows which teas can be left in the water and which ones will get bitter if they’re steeped to long. When I drank tea when I was little it was almost always half and half with goat milk, but never any kind of sweetener. Just milky tea.

With the tea we are tasting in class, it smells so familiar, but the taste is so quickly more bitter than what I am used to that after one or two sips my body feels a little shaky.

Thinking about these differences can certainly bring up questions of authenticity and what you really taste when you taste things.

Do you drink things that taste bad in your mouth and like them because they are very healthy? Are you tasting the idea of the food’s authenticity or history of labor and place of origin rather than the taste of the food itself?

To consider all the variables in tasting food, memories, knowledge, bodily chemical reactions, at once would be impossible. But perhaps it is also impossible to separate any one variable from the rest.

I am content with enjoying the taste of the food itself. When I can take into consideration knowledge about a food and its sustainability, about its ethical origins, I will. When I can make the effort to make something myself from a form that has been processed as little as possible, I will.

I will also enjoy the certain foods that bring up strong sense memories. And I will work on figuring out what balance of healthy, ethical, and good tasting that I need in my life.

And for now, portabello mushrooms fried in butter with Italian spices smell like Roche Harbor at Sunset, on a balcony, overlooking the harbor.

Gilbert and Sullivan playlist and Notes

You may watch the playlist here, or click in the bottom right corner of the video to watch on YouTube. I suggest making sure each video is starting at the beginning, as I’m not sure where they were starting from when I added them to this collection.

I have listened to much of the Gilbert and Sullivan music, but I have not seen all of the operettas visually performed. Most of my comments are from listening to the music, and from watching the videos included in this playlist and a few snippets of the other operettas.

Notes on the playlist:

I created this playlist as an opening to conversations about the impact of politics on art, and art on politics, and to the interesting interactions between comedy, satire, and classism, racism, and sexism in response to the mention of the three little maids from the Mikado being used to advertise corsets in Tompkin’s Racial Indigestion. Much of my notes here are from personal observations and opinions, as I have not studied Gilbert and Sullivan and the interactions between art, theatre, and the sociopolitical sphere in depth, but I think they can still be interesting starting points for conversation.

Video one: Full recording of the Mikado. I have not seen this full version, so I don’t know how some of the changeable songs have been interpreted in this version, but it can serve as good context and a reference point to the original subject of Tompkin’s mention.

Video Two: To me this appears to be a relatively traditional performance of the song “Three Little Maids” from the Mikado. These are the three little maids mentioned in Tompkins, and the song mentions their homecoming and their expected times to be married, from my interpretation. Yum-Yum is already betrothed, and the others will not have to wait very long.

Video Three: This is a more modernly interpreted version of three little maids. I chose this video to showcase the differences in the way the shows are performed. As far as I can tell, it’s at least tradition, if not written into the operettas themselves, that certain songs are changed to fit the circumstances.

Video Four, Five, and Six: Several versions of the song “I’ve Got a Little List”. I’ve arranged them more or less in what I would call more tradition to more modern interpretations. This song is discussing various types of people that society wouldn’t miss if ‘someday a victim must be found’. Depending on the performance, political figures, people who puff peppermint in your face, and various other types of people are listed.

Video Seven: “When I was a Lad” is the story of how a man went from office boy to Ruler of the Queen’s Navy without ever going to sea or being on a ship. It’s poking fun at how authority figures are chosen and social hierarchies. I believe in this show the character who sings this song ends up having been switched at birth and trades places with the captain of a ship, again playing with various ranks and social orders. This song is from HMS Pinafore.

Video Eight: “If You’re Anxious for to Shine” pokes fun at intellectualism, or at least empty intellectualism, stating that if you speak in confusing ways that others’ can’t understand they’ll think you’re deep and profound. This song is from Patience, I think.

Video Nine: “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” is a very fast song that has been used in various parodies including Tom Lehrer’s Element’s Song, and a fan song about National Novel Writing Month called “I am the Very Model of a WriMo Individual. This song is also poking fun at various kinds of practical versus intellectual knowledge and position and authority. This song is from The Pirates of Penzance.

The last three videos are political parodies I chose to highlight the interaction between art and theater and politics. the first, Video Ten, “The Modern Fundamentalist” is making fun of the Kim Davis marriage certificate issuing scandal from a year or two ago, set to the tune of Modern Major General.

The Eleventh Video is a parody about Donald Trump, from before the election, set to the tune of “Ya Got Trouble” from the musical The Music Man.

The Twelfth Video is another parody of the Kim Davis situation, this time set to the tune of “Cell Block Tango” from the musical Chicago.


I chose these Gilbert and Sullivan songs and parodies using the music of musicals to begin a conversation about the dynamics and influences of art and politics on each other. This is not an exhaustive list, nor a particularly scholarly one, but it comes from my own personal observations and things I’ve found particularly interesting or amusing that art/theater/politic interactions have created. I hope you find some interesting thoughts, or at least amusement, in some of these videos and the connections that can be made between them.