What would your pen name be?

Today (Wednesday), the class visited the Pantheon in Paris. I had no idea that such a building existed, and I was very surprised to know that a select few were buried in the crypts beneath it.

Personally, the big name for me was François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume (pen name) Voltaire. In my preparation to come to Paris, I read his book, “Candide,: which turned out to be a very readible story that I might even compare to a text such as “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. 

This is a statue of the famous philosopher of the pen name, Voltaire. Very cool.

I wonder, however, whether any of the folks buried in the crypt would even consent to being there–it seems that these “important” people were moved posthumously. Perhaps this was a disservice.

The list of 70 figures buried in the crypt include Rosseau, Curie, and even Braille. 

I did not know very much about Marie Curie prior to the visit, and I found that there was actually a pubmed article dedicated to her:

“Marie Curie was a remarkable woman whose discoveries broke new ground in physics and chemistry and also opened the door for advances in engineering, biology, and medicine. She broke new ground for women in science: she was, for example, the first woman to receive a doctor of science degree in France, the first woman to win Nobel Prize, the first woman to lecture at the Sorbonne, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, and the first Nobel Laureate whose child also won a Nobel Prize. Her life offers insights into the changing role of women in science and academia over the past century. It also offers examples of many ways in which scientists can, and should, work to improve the educational programs and career opportunities available to those who follow in their footsteps.”

However, in response to the prompt offered by the NBB 402W rubric on the question:

“Marie Curie is one of the only women at the Pantheon. Why?”

I felt it would be more appropriate to talk about a female scientist who was not celebrated and honored due to the systemic imbalance of power she faced. In our NBB 471 class, our guest speaker, Dr. Herve Chneiweiss, made several references to Dr. James Watson. Even in the context of this discussion, there was no credit given to Rosalind Franklin who actually discovered the “informative X-ray diffraction patterns of DNA that provided vital clues for James Watson and Francis Crick’s double-stranded helical model.” 

Rather, she was overshadowed by the sexism in science, back when DNA was discovered, and today, in class when she was not a part of the conversation of genetic research. She continued her research and maintained correspondence with Watson and Crick through her study of diffraction patterns of Tobacco mosaic virus–details all swept under the rug by very apparent sexism everywhere we look. 

To answer the question of “why” the one-word answer is: sexism.

This is a picture of me being Voltaire. He actually satirizes sexism in the book that I read, Candide. I would recommend it. Go Voltaire.

p.s. my last Parker pen, a gift from a dear high school friend, was stolen on a trip to Barcelona, and so i purchased a Caran d’Ache pen from Palais du Stylo. i would highly recommend a visit here if you are interested in a new writing utensil. also, a very fun fact is that is that

“Caran d’Ache was the pen name for Emmanuel Poiré (6 November 1858 – 25 February 1909). The pseudonym comes from Russian: карандаш, romanized: karandash meaning “pencil” in Turkic languages. While his first work glorified the Napoleonic era, he went on to create “stories without words” and as a contributor to newspapers such as the Le Figaro, he is sometimes hailed as one of the precursors of comic strips. The Swiss art products company Caran d’Ache is named after him”

My precious.

this fun post-script fact brings us to a full circle ending as Voltaire was a pen name as well.






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