January 26

Saint Mary’s hosts panel on “The Handmaid’s Tale” in anticipation of the Christian Culture Lecture

first_imgTo prepare for the upcoming Christian Culture Lecture, Saint Mary’s hosted a discussion about “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood on Tuesday.Speakers included Phyllis Kaminski of the religious studies and gender and women’s studies departments, Ann Marie Short of the English department and Laura Williamson Ambrose of the humanistic studies department. The three professors reflected on their own interpretations of the novel.Ambrose discussed the novel’s genre. She said she does not believe the novel belongs to science fiction or feminist genres and that Atwood resists labels.Instead, the novel belongs in the speculative fiction genre, Ambrose said. This genre is particularly scary for many readers because it is so realistic, she added.“Speculative fiction says this could maybe happen tomorrow,” Ambrose said. “It’s more frightening and provocative than science fiction and a distant galaxy, far, far away. … Speculative fiction makes the work of ignoring a little bit harder.”Kaminski first read the novel as a doctoral student in Canada. She said she thinks Atwood’s Canadian nationality has a large influence on the novel, and helps Atwood look at the United States with a critical eye.“Atwood set this [novel] in the United States from the perspective of someone part of a country that was considered lesser than, or other than,” she said. “She sees what happens when we’re superficial and don’t try to move beyond ignorance and ignoring. That’s a real blind spot in the United States. She’s standing north of the border when she thinks and writes, and she sees the differences [between the U.S. and Canada].”Short said she also thinks Atwood’s Canadian influence impacted how race is presented in the novel. In “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the race of each character is not mentioned.“The novel is not explicit about race, but it’s clearly a racist society,” Short said. “Is it so obvious that an American world would be racist? It’s not even worth being explicit. It’s a given.”Short spoke about her experiences reading the novel. She said she has read it three times, and her first time reading it was in the ’90s at age 16.She said at that time, it was not very relatable and felt like science fiction. However, when Hulu announced the television series based on the book, Short returned to the novel. She then read it again to prepare to teach it this semester.Short said the subject of race in the novel stood out to her, during her second and third times reading the book. In the novel, there are elements of a racist society, Short said. The housekeepers are described as dark skinned, and there is anti-semitic rhetoric in Gilead, for instance. “It is very clear that Gilead is racist, white supremacist society, but it never says that explicitly,” she said.The Hulu series practices color-blind casting, Short said, and casts black actors into roles that would probably be white characters in the novel. She said this conveys the message that everyone’s experience is the same in Gilead, regardless of race.This portrayal of the novel and race is problematic, Short said.“It erases the issue of racism and says we are in a post-racial society,” she said.Short questioned how new generations will interpret “The Handmaid’s Tale” as they watch the Hulu series instead of reading the book.“In this moment of Hulu and the questions and critiques of race, what is our responsibility with this novel now?” she said. “In the show, something felt off, and I realized it was the issue of race. How will people who only watch the Hulu series interpret the story?”Tags: literature, race, the handmaid’s talelast_img read more

September 29

​Irish trustee qualifications risk ‘group think’, IAPF warns

first_imgThe Irish pensions regulator risks imposing “group think” on trustee boards if it pushes ahead with new trustee qualifications and should instead bring its proposals in line with the current draft of the new IORP Directive.The Pensions Authority has been warned that the proposal risks driving away lay trustees who, according to the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF), bring a sense of balance to trustee boards.Instead, the trade body suggested limiting the requirements only to those trustees who are paid for their time, rather than those acting on a voluntary basis.The comments come in reaction to a September consultation on trustee qualifications, in which the Authority set out how the revised IORP Directive would impact domestic regulation and asked how to structure a potential curriculum for trustees.  “We suggest,” the IAPF said, “that any mandatory qualification requirements should apply to the trustee group as a whole rather than to each individual trustee.”It noted amendments made to the IORP Directive, after pressure from the UK and Ireland, that would only require a trustee board’s knowledge to be “collectively adequate”.Jerry Moriarty, chief executive of the IAPF, noted that the changes risked a “mass exodus” of lay trustees.“We do feel very strongly the lay trustees do have a lot to add,” he told IPE. “If everyone who is involved in running the pension scheme is paid to be there, then it does change the dynamics a bit.”He questioned whether having purely professional trustees on boards led to better outcomes, echoing the IAPF’s assertion that there was no “body of evidence” pointing to an improvement.Moriarty suggested the regulator “tread slowly” and said the industry was in favour of having trustees better equipped to deal with the challenges facing boards.“But requiring them to all complete the same degree in trusteeship is going a bit too far at this point in time,” he said.“If you are looking at any board – whether it’s for a company or a pension scheme – then one of the important things is to have diverse views and people who can ask tough questions and challenge.“If everybody who has come through the same school, then you are just going to have a major group think, rather than people questioning and delving into things, looking at it from a different point of view.”James Kavanagh, managing director of Trustee Decisions, agreed that lay trustees played an important role within schemes, calling their work “selfless”.But he also argued strongly in favour of improving their level of knowledge.“We need to ensure we have trustees who are knowledgeable, do not over-rely on advisers, operate with strategic clarity, have effective real-time decision-making procedures, are capable of adapting to change and manage conflict-of-interest issues,” he said.“All of this requires courage by trustees, especially in the area of challenging their advisers.”last_img read more