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( Sep. 2nd, 2006 09:06 pm)
I just caught part of Mona Lisa Smile on television. I hadn't seen it before. It's just as well. And I'm glad I didn't see it in a theater -- I would have walked out. As it is, I could only stand about ten minutes of it.

I want to present a couple of facts that people can keep in mind if they see it:

Madeline Albright and Judith Martin were both Wellesley alumnae from the fifties. (Hillary Rodham Clinton was from the '60s.)

The president of the college at the time period the movie was set was Margaret Clapp, who had a Ph.D. from Columbia in history and, oh yeah, a Pulitzer prize.

The president before her was Mildred McAfee Horton. That would be Captain Mildred McAfee Horton. She had become president of the college in 1936, and left the post to become the Navy's first female line officer. She was the first director of the WAVES, and fought to get more opportunities for women in the service. She returned after the war to the post of Wellesley's president, which she retained from 1946-49.

During the post-War period, the College had to field complaints from the town of Wellesley that some students were coming into town dressed poorly in grungy overalls and generally looking scandalous.

When I went there, admittedly twenty-five years later, a woman on my floor who wanted to be an elementary school teacher was criticized by quite a number of her classmates as "wasting her education."

So this portrait of Wellesley women as frail things mostly concerned with finding a husband and keeping their place, needing people like Julia Roberts to liberate them? What a load of crap.

Although it was really nice to see the inside of Houghton Chapel again. It is staggeringly lovely, and actually the movie doesn't do it justice.
A letter from the President of Wellesley to the alumnae regarding the film )

I have thus far not gone to see the film, partly because I was dubious about how the college was portrayed (and because they shot the interiors at Columbia and Yale!) but mostly because I had read the reviews which said it was a pretty mediocre movie. I am even less inclined to see it now.

Wellesley, Wellesley, only to be there... my thoughts on my alma mater )

[Edit: A "brass rat" is the colloquial name for an M.I.T. school ring.]


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