Palimpsest

CGS Writing Excellence, 2008-present

Ideology, the struggle between contending ones, and their spread throughout nations was at the heart of World War II. In contrast to the Great War, World War II was not a morally ambiguous or aimless war; it instead had clear righteous and wrongful sides—or so would those fighting for the moral right would have us believe. Continue reading

Posted In: 2016-17 Contest

Despite their differences, all three of the monotheistic traditions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—trace their origins back to the story of one man. Abraham, as he was named by God, is considered the patriarch of these organized religions. He is revered as the first man to actively choose a life of faith, and in doing so, develop a close relationship with God. Continue reading

Posted In: 2016-17 Contest

“We have the good fortune to live in a great age, we must brace ourselves and triumph over hardship!”1 exclaimed the German schoolmaster, Kantorek, who inspired many of his students to join the German war effort in World War I. His speech owed its power to the rise of nationalism in Germany. Continue reading

Posted In: 2016-17 Contest

Baxter, a young employee of a large corporation, is sitting self-satisfied in his new office, a prize for his promotion. While he is pleased by his higher status in the corporation of 50,000 people and enjoys the larger space in the office, a group of his former bosses enters his office, all with fake smiles. Continue reading

Posted In: 2016-17 Contest

Russia has shifted stance toward foreign adoption several times over the past 30 years. Under Communism, there were no guidelines that allowed for Russian children to be adopted. But, when Yeltsin took over, he allowed the citizens more freedom and allowed for Russian children to be adopted by other families. Once Vladimir Putin came along, the stakes changed. Continue reading

Posted In: 2015-16 Contest
If I were a fish
I’d be a pufferfish
puff, puff, pass
a fist.
Because my eyes burn
with the rage of a thousand scorned,
left for dead
those who bore a shade of lead.
Systematic perpetuation of marginal-
sized fish
examined and used like a petri dish. Continue reading
Posted In: 2015-16 Contest

I heard my father talking about it with my mother all of the time. They both survived it, and now they appeared comfortable discussing their experiences. They recalled the pain, suffering, and trauma that they had to undergo before finally arriving in America in 1982, but how could they so openly reminisce about such a horrific period in their lives? Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

“This is my hand. I can move it, feel the blood pulsing through it. The sun is still high in the sky and I, Antonius Block, am playing chess with Death.”

Philosophers have long contemplated the mystery of existence and the certainty of death, but in the course of the past century these existential questions have become present topics in cinema. Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

Following is a portfolio of paragraphs, each written with a different goal.

1: Description

The Wonderful Diversity of Italian Life

On my family’s summer vacations to Italy, I plunge into Italian life, in all its wondrous diversity. Every morning, we drive down to the marina, a sandy beach littered with a peculiar mixture of jubilant kids scampering about and torpid old men and women drying in the scorching Mediterranean sun. Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

The topic of homosexuality in 1960s America faced an incredible amount of opposition. Homophobia was extremely prevalent in society and there were many discriminatory laws against homosexuals. When discussing the homosexual rights movement, scholars like Fred Fejes, author of Gay Rights and Moral Panic, focus on the struggle of homosexuals gaining equal rights against an adversary heterosexual society. Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

Most people can see that traumatic experiences such as war, torture, or kidnapping can have a profound effect on the social skills, violent tendencies, and paranoia of victims after returning home. The problem with people’s perceptions of trauma victims is that they still believe that those victims are the same people that they were before. The reality is that trauma victims, depending on the severity and nature of the trauma, can be changed to the point where they can only identify themselves as existent in relation to the trauma. Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

Abduljalal al-Din Rumi, a thirteenth century mystic poet, whirled like a Sufi dervish on the sandy beach of a foreign land. As he whirled, he softly sung the lyrics to his poem titled Only Breath.

“Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

One drop, two drops, three drops, four.

The cobblestone pavements of London soon gleam under the dim streetlights. A street beggar, with a bottle of gin in one hand and a loaf of stale bread in the other, hastens his steps to escape the unsought shower. Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

Adam Smith challenged fundamental mercantilist doctrines and laid the foundations for classical laissez-faire capitalism theory starting in the mid-18th century. Since the Industrial Revolution, capitalism progressively dominated the economic ideologies of Europe. Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

Herman Hesse’s novel Steppenwolf, published in 1927, touches upon the existential theme of dual personalities and the notion that life is filled with spiritual searching and suffering. It follows the intriguing tale of a middle-aged man, Harry Haller, also known as the Steppenwolf, and analyzes his physical, mental, and spiritual crises. Many readers, although not the author, consider the book to be a fundamentally existentialist novel. Continue reading

Posted In: 2014-15 Contest

Persons of the Dialogue: Charlotte. Gabriel.

Scene: A Starbucks in Boston, Massachusetts.

Gabriel: (On the phone) No, it’s okay. I’m just sitting in Starbucks. … Yes. Really cold. … No, Mom, it’s fine—… Yes—… I already have gloves, okay?! … No. Sorry. I’m okay. I’m just kinda stressed at the moment. … Well, I have an exam on Kierkegaard in my humanities class tomorrow and— Continue reading

Posted In: 2013-14 Contest

The way we use the term “technology,” implies that it is a very new concept, therein defining the modern era by our advancements in the readability of knowledge and the supposed ease added to our lives because of it; however technology by definition is simply any scientific development used for practical purposes making it’s existence dated to the first time humans used a self-constructed fire for warmth and cooking. At the time Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was written, technology Continue reading

Posted In: 2013-14 Contest

Whenever a disease is on the rise, people search for answers and feel the need to find a reason for the cause. This is a naturally occurring human response. Since the rate of autism has been on the rise, it is understandable that people search for a cause for the debilitating developmental disease. In a few incidents, onset of autism has closely followed the administration of the MMR vaccine, resulting in increased scrutiny and scapegoating of this widely used immunization. In truth, we may not yet have all the answers to how and why the condition develops. Continue reading

Posted In: 2013-14 Contest

Comparing the size of a single human being to the vastness of the whole universe inspires feelings of amazement, wonder, and fear. Despite these feelings or perhaps because of them, humans have bravely ventured to the moon, low-Earth orbit, and have sent probes to planets as far as Mars, Venus, and Saturn. These endeavors, however, raise questions about their goals. Although President John F. Kennedy along with astrophysicists Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson all appear to have the same goals for space exploration, further inspection reveals that their underlying motives differ greatly. Continue reading

Posted In: 2013-14 Contest

Self-objectification is the process of treating one’s own body as a mere commodity: an object that can only be appreciated for aesthetic value. Third-wave feminists have attempted to redefine objectification, claiming that by choosing to portray oneself as an object, the individual takes back agency from those who would have objectified them. Yet this understanding of self-objectification is controversial. What message does self-objectification actually portray: one of empowerment, or simply one of submission to the hegemonic standards to which self-objectification conforms? Continue reading

Posted In: 2012-13 Contest First Prize

Humbly nestled next to a laundromat on 236 Brighton Avenue is a martial arts gym with a combined team record of 83 wins and only 13 losses in professional and amateur bouts. Wai Kru Mixed Martial Arts, known simply as “Wai Kru”, is one of the most respected and sought out martial arts gyms in the Boston area, offering classes in Muay Thai, boxing, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. There is no doubt that the success of Wai Kru’s fighters Continue reading

Posted In: 2011-12 Contest First Prize

History is history not because events happen, but because there are people there to witness and testify to it. However, since a single individual could not possibly know every detail surrounding any particular event while it happens, it is the role of the historian to see and understand history from as many angles as possible. Through the research process for this paper, I came to realize that events happen the way they do because each person present makes a specific decision to act a certain way. This is the story of that realization. Continue reading

Posted In: 2011-12 Contest Runner-Up

The live studio audience laughs hysterically, its frantic clapping steadily increasing in the background as the flaming redhead on screen pouts her lips, tilts her head, crosses her arms, and groans loudly as she realizes her most recent mistake. Lucy’s newest scheme has blown up again and a laughing Ricky is standing next to her shaking his head, rolling his eyes.

At first glance the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy portrays the comical, prank-filled marriage of an adorable couple: Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. While on the surface it appears as if Lucy is just a goofy character who always seems to be getting into trouble, further inspection illuminates the fact that her actions and their outcomes are so much more than just clever scriptwriting. Continue reading

Posted In: 2011-12 Contest Runner-Up

Dear Mr. Keynes,

I am writing to address your notions on the current depressed state of the economy and your proposals concerning how to solve the difficulties the United States is facing. The Great Depression is an example of the instability that lies within capitalism. The law of accumulation has resulted in the elite class getting wealthier and Continue reading

Posted In: 2010-11 Contest Runner-Up

On Saturday October 4, 1957, Americans all over the country listened at their radio sets to the sound of a beacon being projected from a 183-pound man-made satellite orbiting earth at 18,000 mph.1 Given their intensity, Americans might have been celebrating the first US satellite launch.2 Instead, the country erupted into a state of hysteria, as the fear was confirmed that the Soviet Socialist Republic had pulled ahead of the US in an event that what would later be referred to as the largest defeat of the Cold War. What occurred over the course the next year could be described as nothing short of a crisis in confidence of the American people and their way of life. Continue reading

Posted In: 2010-11 Contest Runner-Up

Traditional Eurocentric historiography attributes Japan’s ascendance as a powerful actor on the international stage at the end of the 19th century as being the result of an adoption of Prussian and German paradigms regarding politics and the military. However, a more in depth analysis reveals that Japan’s ascendance stems from the desire to keep Japan Japanese, and that the story of Japan’s modern history is one of a Japanese struggle for sovereignty in a time and region dominated by Western imperialist practices. Continue reading

Posted In: 2010-11 Contest First Prize

How does an individual find their place in foreign territory, with different customs, and often a different language? These are only a few obstacles new populations must overcome to be associated with the dominant group. Historically the United States has, for the most part, welcomed immigrants and embraced the concept of a melting pot society where different people from different parts of the world share their cultures and enrich the diversity of America. Continue reading

Posted In: 2009-10 Contest Runner-Up

In an on going controversy regarding the very origins of the human species, ideas essential to the founding of our nation are being challenged. The line which separates church from state, an especially crucial boundary in terms of public education, is being continuously challenged by creationist science enthusiasts, who proceed to push for the incorporation of creationist origin theories into science curricula across America.  This matter has seen the insides of the highest of court rooms; two of the most notable cases Continue reading

Posted In: 2009-10 Contest First Prize

Deep learning is by nature next to impossible to teach in school because it relies so heavily on students’ self-motivation. A deep learner can always be recognized by the way he articulates his scholastic experiences. Instead of recounting which books he was assigned for class, he recalls specific discussions or readings that struck him on a more personal note. In his book, What the Best College Teachers Do, Ken Bain mentions that deep learners will speak about “developing an understanding, making something their own, ‘getting into it’, and making sense of it all” (9). This is not easy for every schoolchild to do, however. Continue reading

Posted In: 2009-10 Contest Runner-Up

This essay is missing from our archive, but we hope to locate it soon. Here’s an abstract:

A critique of Sue Williams’ recent documentary about the post-Tiananmen generation. Jonathan brings Marxist theory to bear on Williams’ Young and Restless in China in an effort to explain why Williams’ effort to let her subjects tell their own stories winds up inscribing them within a Western paradigm of economic progress.

Posted In: 2008-09 Contest Runner-Up

In the America of today, suburbia is simply a fact of life. It’s the place where much of the country eats, sleeps, plays and returns to every day after work. But why is it that modern America has not emerged as an entirely city-based culture as had been the natural trend since the Industrial Revolution? The answer is not entirely simple and requires looking back in time at an era familiar to many of us only as a time of drive-in movies, poodle skirts and finned-cars—the 1950s. Continue reading

Posted In: 2008-09 Contest First Prize

This essay is missing from our archive, but we hope to locate it soon. Here’s an abstract:

A thoughtful analysis of the ethics of photojournalism. Using Richard Drew’s iconic photograph of one of the jumpers from the World Trade Center as his point of reference, Thomas takes note not only of the contributions which this photograph made to public discourse and grieving, but also a variety of difficult and complicated ethical dilemmas that both preceded and followed the image’s publication.

Posted In: 2008-09 Contest Runner-Up

Children of all ages

“The greatest show on Earth is now the tallest show on Earth, the strongest show on Earth, the most amazing show on Earth, and the funniest show on Earth.”1 These are the lines heard in the television commercial shown in the Cleveland, Ohio area when Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus was coming to the Gund Arena in 1998. And they were not lying. What the spectator sees is amazing. The 29 second commercial shows acrobats and gymnasts who seem to be defying gravity, a man pulling, with only his mouth, a rope attached to an elephant, another man who blows fire, jugglers, clowns, tightrope walkers, and people bursting out of cannons. But it also shows a roaring tiger popping out of a paper- covered ring, an elephant dancing with a woman, and a choreographed dance in which elephants form a line and stand on their hind legs while hanging on to each other’s shoulders. Continue reading

Posted In: 2007-08 Contest First Prize

Often artists’ works speaks more to the human condition when they have a deep understanding of the human body’s physical makeup and how it relates to the mind and soul. Christine Borland, for instance, combines both scientific thought and medical research into her art in order to examine the ethics behind modern science. As both an artist and an apprentice to forensic scientists, she epitomizes the nexus between science and art Continue reading

Posted In: 2007-08 Contest Runner-Up