Forbes and Fifth

Volume 15, Fall 2019

Stars Wars: A Franchise Rooted in the Leitmotif

Ben Werdegar

As one of the most valuable film franchises in history (grossing over $7.5 billion), Star Wars has an almost indescribable essence that extends from film to film and elegantly ties long, stretched themes together. For decades, die-hard fans and common viewers alike have been entranced in the seemingly magical and timeless qualities of Star Wars. The strong emotion viewers have can be explained largely by an understanding of John Williams’ brilliant score.

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lost purse

Emily Wingfield

drifting around wooden floors and barstools,

where men size up girls who clutch tightly onto polished purses

and move their tired eyes around the room.

someone shouts out for another round.

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Milk

Eden Petri

The kitchen smells like bread and lemon disinfectant spray. Asher sits at the table reading the morning paper, the pristine porcelain China plate collecting the fallen crumbs like snow piles. His glass of milk sits lifeless, imitating the pure white of the kitchen walls that encompass him. The watch on his wrist reads 6:15. Next to him there is a calendar, today's date is circled. Four vases sit on the counter to his right—one filled with roses, another lilies, another violets and the fourth, a mix of the three. Bridal magazines litter the room like dirty dishes.

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Quechua Plural Formation and the Performance of Social Identity

Joseph Jaros

Quechua is a language spoken throughout the Andes mountains, but it has low social prestige compared to the dominant language (Spanish). Because of the conflict between languages in the Andes, language plays a big role in identity construction. In Quechua, the plural can be formed in two ways: either with the suffix /-kuna/, which is originally from Quechua, or /-s/ which has been borrowed from Spanish. The goal of this paper is to understand what social factors contribute to the alternation between these two plural forms. 

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The Tragedy of American Exceptionalism in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Nicholas Marcelli

In her article, “Success, Law, and the Law of Success: Re-Evaluating Death of a Salesman’s Treatment of the American Dream,” Galia Benziman states that “a survey of the critical evaluations of Death of a Salesman reveals that the play has been mostly construed as a powerful, impassioned attack on this national ethos, often designated as the ‘American dream.” Arguably, the critical consensus attacks this romanticized “national ethos” by asserting that Willy Loman’s downfall and suicide are the results of his failure to achieve an unattainable American Dream. However, I propose it is not the promise of the American Dream that drives the play’s central tragedy, but a much larger force: American Exceptionalism.

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Identity and Invisibility in African American Literature

Nicholas Major

During the 20th century, the quest for identity in African-American life and literature is obstructed by the fact that identity is dictated by color, rather than what an individual projects. The resulting mode of existence for African-Americans is marked by what W.E.B. Du Bois, in his text, The Souls of Black Folk, calls “double-consciousness,” and a sense of invisibility in the presence of oppression. For Du Bois, double-consciousness is a concept that describes a divide between one’s true self and how that self is observed by others.

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The Third Time

Julie Charlebois

I have seen my father cry three times in my life.

The first time was when I was a freshman in high school. My younger brother was in sixth grade and in danger of having to repeat his first year of middle school; my father tried to work with him, proofreading his essays, making flashcards for science class, reviewing math problems. 

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Hidden Figures

Beenish Khan

Based on the eponymous non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures is a semi-biographical drama film that boasts Theodore Melfi (of "St. Vincent" fame) at its helm. A modest 127 minutes in length, the film functions in equal parts as a chronicle and a social commentary of the struggles endured by female mathematicians at NASA during the 1960s, when both the Civil Rights movement and the Space Race were at their zenith. 

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The Importance of Satire, Parody, and Absurdism in Soviet and Contemporary Russian Literature

Alexandra Rowe

When most people hear the words “Russian literature”, a cacophony of dour images are conjured up. These images usually involve coldness, unironically classical tragedy, and hefty, dense books that can be dutifully used as a doorstop. Occasionally, an oversized fur hat or two is tossed in for good measure. For instance, a popular American example of this generalization about Russian literature would be the jazz standard, “But Not For Me.” When George and Ira Gershwin wrote the lyrics, “I've found more clouds of gray / Than any Russian play could guarantee”, they knew many listeners would have this basic generalization in mind. However, Soviet and contemporary Russian literature is a bit more complex and layered than this generalization. Although tragedy and sadness are featured strongly in many notable works of Soviet and Russian literature, the usage of many types of humor (farce, gallows, absurdism etc.) are prominently displayed and relevant to them, as well. Satire, absurdism and humor are exceptionally important to the emotional layers of Soviet and contemporary Russian literature, because they were used as artistic weapons of subversion against the society and politics of their respective eras.

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Sechs Millionen Sterne

Kikelomo Ogun-Semore

Glass—it was glass that shred through her feet without forethought. It looked up at her, mocking and glimmering in its opalescent glory, the light of the passing moon scintillating over its surface. Still, she stumbled forward, fearing for what laid behind her as much as what lay before. Powdered and fine, she forced her legs through the glass, the warmth her body provided it quickly reducing it into water droplets that collected on her skin. She drew closer the few scraps of thread that have since replaced her prayer shawl, providing her with only the memory of warmth. She held them close to her heart with a tender fierceness that her Mama would always say would land her in trouble one day. 

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