Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Grace Toner Midterm: "My Mind @ Bryn Mawr"

gracejtoner's picture

Here's the webpage link to my midterm:

Happy spring break :) 


cds4's picture

Grace, this project is absolutely beautiful, both in the art work it incorperates and the language it uses to unpack with. I was immediately struck by the quote of qualifications you pulled from Price's piece, that students are valued on their "productivity, presence, rationality, and coherence". I think that line must have passed over my head when I first read Mad at School  however, it resonated with me when you re-interpreted these standards in the context of Bryn Mawr's campus. I have never though of there being a universal expectation for Bi-co students however you are right, there are these qualifications transcend academic disciplines and individual interests. Personally, I am more conscious of the pressure to be productive on a day-day basis, but that doesn't mean that the expectation to be present and rational and coherent still don't nag at my psyche in more passive forms.  It is funny how contradictory some of the qualifications are. I have so many friends that are value productivity above all else (unfortunately including mental health) and I often consider them to be irrational and sometimes not present, because they are so focused on being efficient stuents. But that judgment that I silently pass on them is only creating a more toxic learning environment because I am reinforcing the belief that they are doing something wrong. At the same time though, it feels unethical to watch them destroy their heath for the sake of school. 


It was powerful to me that you contrasted the written testimonies of Bryn Mawr's effect on mental health with the body map images. While reading the testimonies I was struck by how difficulty it is to comunícate pain. We have pretty extensive language systems for love, anger, and so many other emotions but this idea of hurting seems to resist objectification. Some of the responses you received likened the pain of these expectations to a physical sensation like a head ache, and others kept it in a social/emotional context, refering to it as a "moody" attitude. Regardless of the approach though, I still struggled to fully grasp what these participants were feeling. Not because they were doing a poor job of communication, but because  we, as a society, have done a poor job of making pain communicatable. But then you introduced to body maps and I could understand a lot better what emotions were at play. The body map from the anonymous artist perfectly encapsulated the complexity of feeling disabled by your academic institution; feeling this incredibly strong emotion of saddress and frustrataction while at the same time just being burned out and tiered. Trying to maintain a happy demeanor for others even though this inward chaos continues to whirl. I love that you introduced this new medium for discussing self-conception because, at least for me, it shed a whole new light on the pain some of these students face. It would be interesting if a system was designed that legitimized tools such as body maps, as testimonies of student experiences. It seems that the only way that a student can voice discontent is through writing, but as talked about above, writing isn't always the best way to discuss some of these issues. 

gracejtoner's picture

Hi! Thank you for this comment, beautifully written. I didn't even think about the struggles we have with communicating pain, especially nuanced pain, so your insight on that part is really enlightening for me! I'm glad I could touch upon something you've noticed as a Bi-Co student as well. Hopefully depending on what the rest of the semester looks like I could continue this project virtually with students. Thanks!