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Magazine Review: Riposte

Magazine Review: Riposte

Library TA Emmeline S. ’19 tells you all about one of the new magazines we picked up:

Self-described as the “smart magazine for women” and a decided (and welcome) respite from mainstream media coverage of rumored Kardashian pregnancies and other mundane celebrity “news,” London-based Riposte magazine offers short stories, articles and interviews on topics aimed at educated women.  

Issue 8 of Riposte

Started in 2013 by London-based art gallery curator Danielle Pender, Riposte is a bit of a publishing anomaly.  While many other magazines and media houses are increasingly moving more content online, Riposte’s website features single topic photos and brief teasers for in-depth articles that can be accessed only via the printed bi-annual magazine (Issue 8 is currently available in the Castilleja Espinosa Library).

Riposte is not light reading, nor is it appropriate for the modest reader.  Issue 8 contributors address heavy topics including racism, failures of science education on gender, motherhood, fashion and innovation. This particular issue also features semi-nude and powerfully untouched photos of breast cancer survivor Erika Hart, accompanying a candid article on real-life information gaps she encountered while being treated by her team of medical professionals.  The discussion of sexuality and sexual matters are more European in their openness; however, there are no advertisements or photos of young, photoshopped models in provocative poses.

The visual aesthetic of the magazine is somewhat chaotic with varying typefaces, full page borderless photos immediately followed by distinctly bordered images, and jarring discontinuities of layout. Surprisingly, the former art-gallery curator has not stamped the magazine with a readily identifiable look-and-feel nor has she established a consistent tone or language usage embodied by some of the most prominent magazines in circulation in North America (e.g. The New Yorker).  There are some well-written creative pieces–Adventure (essays) on pages 15-19–a few beautiful photos such as pages 50, 94, and 120-121, and some interesting articles–a the feature on architect/designer Farshid Moussavi on page 20 for example. However, there is a lack of flow across the issue, and the quality of the written and photographic content is inconsistent.  

Lastly, while many of the women covered in the magazine are role models, many of the topics–e.g., motherhood, balancing work/life–are aimed at women at different stages of life than the average Castilleja student.  

While Riposte has yet to fully mature into a consistent, high-quality publication, it is well worth scanning twice a year for insights as well as an introduction to interesting topics and women role models.  

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Four to Read More: Stories Retold From the Villain’s Perspective

Four to Read More: Stories Retold From the Villain’s Perspective

As we gear up for Halloween, why not try some stories retold from the antagonist’s point of view?



Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Before becoming a ruthless monarch, the Queen of Hearts was a no more than a young girl who dreamed of becoming the best baker in the Land of Hearts and marrying the handsome court joker. But her dreams were cut short by the expectations of her mother, the expectations that drove her to pursue romance in secret, and nothing good can ever come from that.



Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Is the Witch of the West truly as wicked as we think? Maguire’s retelling of the Wizard of Oz sheds light on Elphaba’s rough childhood growing up with alcoholic and endlessly jealous parents. In this version of the story, Elphaba’s hometown is controlled by a totalitarian dictator known as the Wizard of Oz and is one of the only people in her town to advocate against the mistreatment of animals.




Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli
In this unconventional retelling of Snow White, Dolce, a young girl living on an island of dwarves, is seen as a freak and a giant by everyone in her hometown, hated by everyone besides her mother. One day, she escapes her island and travels to a foreign land where she is welcomed and her height is no longer uncommon.  In this new land, she falls in love with a widower and becomes a mirror-maker. However, her love of mirrors soon stirs trouble deep within her soul and she begins to see herself transform into the evil stepmother we know her as today.



Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys cover of The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
Do you remember Bertha Mason, the madwoman locked in Rochester’s attic in Jane Eyre? Do you ever wonder what drove her to snarl, walk on all fours, and set Thornfield on fire? Wide Sargasso Sea tells the story of Antoinette Cosway, the young Jamaican girl forced to marry Rochester and confined to the attic of Thornfield for the rest of her life.

By Sophia N. ’19

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A Man’s Woman: The Portrayal of Women in Television

A Man’s Woman: The Portrayal of Women in Television

A Man’s Woman

Nancy L. ’17 & Alexa M. ’18

The average American adult watches over five hours of television everyday. (Kobley, 2016) hours of tv. We are constantly exposed to the entertainment industry’s interpretation of modern society. Media’s portrayal of women, particularly women of color, is often skewed and even discriminatory. Audiences are brainwashed by these unrealistic depictions, and form biases that impact day to day life. Female characters are rarely interesting. Their personas tend to lack complex qualities and emotional or intellectual depth. Traditionally feminine appearances, personalities, and circumstances are encouraged.

Actresses who fit the industry’s criteria for beauty tend to fill the roles that make it onto our screens. The video “Women in Television” clearly portrays the stereotypical image of the attractive woman, according to society’s standards. Out of the twenty one women who are being aggressively objectified in these clips, nine are blonde, and seventeen are white. Not one is overweight and the majority appear to be comfortable being scrutinized in this manner. A select body type and overall look has been normalized, and as a result, women who differ from media’s expectations often feel self conscious and ashamed of themselves. The immense pressure to adhere to these standards can even cause some to practice unhealthy or deadly behaviors such as extreme dieting or exercise. This body policing is an overarching theme in American television, but when one further examines media’s portrayal of women, trends in the depiction of women of color become apparent.

Additional tropes and standards regarding class and race are also prevalent in media. Black women in pop culture are characterized by a stereotypical sense of strength and assertiveness. Motherly Mammy-type figures are one common depiction of Black women. Black women also tend to be represented is in an oversexualized manner, particulary in music videos.  Although we see more and more black female entertainers with each year, most of the women are light skinned. The lack of dark skinned actresses contributes to colorism, a prevalent cultural issue. Hispanic women are typically depicted as fiery and hypersexualized. Most of these characters are maids, criminals, or immigrants. In real life, hispanic women exist in all aspects of society. Then there’s always the the tiger-moms, the nerds, and other over achieving Asian characters. These offensive images fail to show the wonderful range of women that make up our society. As audiences watch these types of female characters resurface again and again, a dangerous prejudice forms.

One way in which the negative effects of this bias can be seen is in the professional world. We have all heard the statistic that women make 72 cents to a man’s dollar. However, women of color make even less. Black women earn 64% of the white male salary, and Hispanic women make 54% (Leber, 2015). Some of this disparity is due to biases in hiring employees. Discrimination against women of color is fueled by the deep rooted prejudice perpetuated by pop culture.

Although some progress is being made in Hollywood, there is still much work to be done. Part of the reason that female characters are so widely oversimplified is because most of the characters were written by men. According to the Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, 45% of TV pilots in 2015 had no female creators or producers associated with them, and 78% had no minority creators or producers associated with them (Bunche Center for African-American Studies at UCLA, 2017). It is no wonder that the portrayal of women in the many popular television shows is lackluster and biased.

Combatting these stereotypes may be difficult, but through continued effort, we can continue to improve women’s standing. By becoming a critical viewer, one who questions the content they are subject to, we can increase awareness about poor representation and form a better perspective on other women and ourselves.


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Background Information: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

Background Information: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

TA Noel P. pairs a book taking place in 1911 New York with an informative research about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire…

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

The Museum of Extraordinary Things is set in turn-of-the-century America, and focused on two very different teenagers: Coralie, a “mermaid” in her father’s abusive freak show on Coney Island, whose diminishing audience forces her into darker acts; and Eddie, a Ukrainian immigrant who struggles with relationships with his father, and learning to live in a new and unfamiliar world during one of the most exciting times in history. While this novel is mainly about these two characters and what they come to discover about themselves in their troubled lives, one of the most fascinating aspects about this novel is the setting. Set in the time period right on the brink of WWI, social status and class are being reimagined, immigrant identities are becoming more prevalent, forms of entertainment are evolving, and so many other things come to life. In this time period, France was going through their “Belle Epoque,” and US itself was experiencing its “Gilded Age.” The world was, mostly, at peace.

But that’s in the span of the entire world, and what Hoffman does is show not the warfare of country against country, but the tragedy of life, and the internal warfare that occurs underneath the gold and the glitz and the propaganda. Undoubtedly the biggest tragedy portrayed in this book is the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire–one of the darkest consequences of industrialization in the US and the abuse on its workforce. The fire not only serves to juxtapose the backdrop setting of the novel, but also to act as a sobering catalyst for the characters’ lives.

A photograph of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

For more information on this time period, especially on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, visit Remembering the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire. Put together by Cornell University, this website has background information on the Triangle Factory Fire, as well as primary source interviews, documents, images, and the names and basic information on all victims of the fire. Check it out!


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Why I Love The Database Issues and Controversies

Why I Love The Database Issues and Controversies



TA Christine C. wants you to know that this database is the best.




Issues and Controversies saved my life last year. I was preparing for my APS debate on the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” and couldn’t seem to find a sufficient amount of reliable sources for both sides of the argument. How was I going to write my whole debate when I didn’t have enough reliable evidence to bolster my arguments? I would completely embarrass myself during the debate by having to cite my sources with “the website Republicans Hate Obama says” or “according to The Onion.”

I turned to the magical library databases and stumbled upon Issues and Controversies. After I typed in “The Affordable Care Act” on the search bar, the database led me to a vast amount of trustworthy websites and scholarly articles. Even better, Issues and Controversies had articles written from both perspectives and blurbs on every article titled “Supporters Argue” and “Opponents Argue” that gave me a concise and informative summary on the issue as well as ideas for arguments and counterarguments. Thanks to Issues and Controversies, the condition of my debate was saved.

Knowing what issues, domestic and international, are present and having a deep understanding of those issues allow us to become well informed and make stances of our own. The majority of our political stances are affected by our environment and it can often be difficult to clearly understand the other side of the argument when people around us paint the opponents as the “bad guys.” I personally recognize that going to a liberal school and living in one of the most liberal places in the country have shaped my political views. When biases become increasingly evident and ubiquitous, understanding both sides of an issues becomes more important. Issues and Controversies allowed me to look at a multitude of issues from a different perspective and critically think about my own biases.

Whether you need evidence for a school paper or want to learn more about the world around you, Issues and Controversies is a reliable and informative database to use. Think about issues in a new light and learn more about what was just on the news. Who knows? You might just learn something about the world and yourself.

By Christine C. ’17.

Check out Issues and Controversies here on our databases page.

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A Grim Fate for Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Censorship Based on Age Groups

A Grim Fate for Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Censorship Based on Age Groups

Sky, ’19 writes in defense of letting teens and kids choose for themselves what reading material they can handle.

We have all heard by now that the fairy tales we loved and knew growing up, are heavily edited versions of the originals. Even Wilhelm & Jacob Grimm, who published the most famous fairy tales, heavily edited the first edition of their stories. There was a recent survey {Source} that revealed that a lot of parents refuse to read most or some of the Grimm’s fairy tales to their children. We see a trend of this, of parents censoring books for their children, but how do we draw the line between what is acceptable for children to read and what is not acceptable for children to read, and should we be drawing the line at all?

Some people argue that some books should not be read by younger people because the complex themes in the narrative will not be appreciated or picked up on by younger audiences, not because of the content. There are also reading levels in some schools, where children are given a reading level based on a letter from A-Z  and not allowed to read below that letter, on the basis that the books would be too difficult for them to read. Is there a better way to seperate books by age group, and should they really be separated at all? It’s understandable that parents do not want their children to be exposed to older concept too young, but after a certain age is it still beneficial to not allow children or teenagers to not read certain books?

Parents are the biggest pusher of censorship of books and the banning of books in schools and libraries, {Source} but banning books limits people’s freedom to draw their own ideas from books. Literature can be very powerful,  and it is not necessarily a bad thing for children and teenagers to read books that challenge the ways they think about the world and what they know about the world. Do we really need to censor the violence and the gore out of the classics like the Grimm’s fairy tales, or the language out of Huckleberry Finn, because it might make a kid scared or worried? Even if teenagers or kids don’t understand or fully pick up on the themes of the book, shouldn’t they still be allowed to read them?

Reading facilitates new ideas and introduces new concepts, and teenagers and kids should be allowed to read books that appeal to them, regardless of the difficulty of the language or themes. Separating books by age groups and reading level, and censoring classics for younger audiences is not beneficial to anybody. It goes against the point of writing and reading; to be able to express, learn, and think about anything in any context or way. We need to stop separating books, and let kids and teenagers decide for themselves what is too upsetting, scary, or old for them to read.

By Sky Y. ’19


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