Elevate Difference

Reviews by Alicia Sowisdral

Alicia Sowisdral

Alicia is a music lover, movie lover, and book lover with a critical eye and a feminist heart. A freelance artist of many talents, when opportunities arise Alicia finds herself a writer, editor, performer, radio DJ, and cultural commentator, particularly on pop culture and the media.

A “girl enthusiast” who is fascinated by adolescence, Alicia writes a weekly Teen Scene column at Film Catcher and appears as a monthly guest blogger at Love YA Lit. For more about Alicia check her out at pop!goesalicia.

The Girls’ History and Culture Reader: The Nineteenth Century

In 1982 Harvard professor Carol Gilligan published In a Different Voice, a revolutionary body of research articulating the unique psychological experience of being female in America. Responding to research that drew conclusions from studying boys, Gilligan’s exploration of the female experience was one of the first to focus on girlhood as an independent site for research rather than as a sub-category of Women’s Studies.

Monica & David

One of the many things people take for granted—Americans especially—is free will. Basic human rights. When you are able-bodied, physically able to take care of yourself, the ways to access free will seem limitless—there are plenty of things you are able to participate in, such as having a job, living on your own, and preparing your own meals. In Monica & David, novice filmmaker Alexandra Codina documents the wedding and first year of marriage between Monica and David, two adults living with Down’s syndrome.

Surfer Girls in the New World Order

I was twelve years old when my mom moved to South Florida and I was first introduced to surf culture. My step-dad’s shed was filled with boards all different shapes and sizes and on the few rare occasions I did paddle out, it was always with him by my side—and with his help navigating the powerful ocean. I was interested and wanted to learn, but I was scared. I wouldn’t be good enough, I wasn’t strong enough, the boys would make fun of me, I’d get in their way, they wouldn’t like me.

This – A Literary Webzine

Early this year, I began writing for Elevate Difference. Over the past few months, I have written more prolifically; built relationships with a handful of supportive, feminist artists; and above all, gained greater insight into my own writing through feedback from editors and readers. This – A Literary Webzine is another example of a space on the Internet that provides a forum for writers to produce and publish while joining a community of their peers. Created by Hollis University graduate Lacey N. Dunham, a former Elevate Difference contributor, This zine employs a volunteer group of editors and seeks submissions from a variety of genres.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story

It’s not very often that people take the time to explore the mind of a teenager and it’s even less frequent that this exploration takes place on the Silver Screen. In the current cultural climate, teenagers are nearly an endangered species; 1.6 million are homeless, and those fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads face daily struggles with bullying, body image, sexual predators, and the intense stress of a failing educational system. Even, or maybe especially, those of privilege, who come from stable homes and elite educational institutions are crippled by an overwhelming expectation to succeed.

In the Time of the Girls

When do you stop being a girl? When do you start? And, perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be a girl? These questions are necessary ingredients in order to fully ingest Anne Germanacos’ debut work, In the Time of the Girls. An exploration of history and individual experience, the book forsakes the traditional plot-driven narrative for a collection of short stories which themselves are a mosaic of prose and dialogue infused vignettes, each individually titled.

Easy A

Remember when Superbad was released and everyone was freaking out about what a great teen film it was? Did you wonder why the story didn't include the ways girls break the rules in high school? I did. But the film did have a minor yet interesting female role, Jules, who was made memorable by the candid humor of newcomer Emma Stone. In Easy A, Stone effortlessly tackles her first starring role, and presents a realistic story of teenage identity, friendship, and the challenges of self-discovery.

High Water

In his second full-length documentary, High Water, surf journalist Dana Brown composes a love letter to Hawaii’s North Shore by chronicling the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing big wave competition. Home to the largest rideable waves on the planet and nicknamed “The Seven Mile Miracle," this stretch of sand is the place where legends are made; a natural Mecca for those who worship the sea and a place where one wave can change your life.

Picture Me

There is a moment in Picture Me, a documentary about the fashion industry, where model Sara Ziff’s father recalls hearing his daughter’s look described as the girl next door. The camera closes up on Ziff in a two page Tommy Hilfiger ad. “I guess that depends where you live,” her father quips, flippantly alluding to the exclusive world of high fashion.

Going the Distance

When I first read about this film in the making, I was psyched. I’m a huge Drew Barrymore fan, and it appeared that finally, a romantic comedy was in the works that presented a more modern interpretation of male female relationships. It looked like it might actually include both sides of the story rather than just a fairy tale version of the woman’s desire to be desired. Mission accomplished… sort of.


I spent a few years as a DJ for the college radio station during graduate school, and quickly learned that the fastest, most accurate way to asses if you’ll like an album is to pay attention to the label. If you really dig a band, it’s worth your time to research the label that produces their albums–chances are it will be home to other artists you’ll enjoy.

Also Known As

Being a writer is often a difficult endeavor. It’s not the desire nor the passion that is constraining but more often the discipline, the dedication. Sometimes what writers struggle most with is the publicity of the written word. Once something is printed, with your name next to it–there is no going back. It may be one of the reasons so many authors choose to publish under a pseudonym, a fictional name created to hide the identity of the author in order to create a truly private space where creativity can thrive. Elizabeth Robinson has taken this practice one step further.

Game Night

Corrin Campbell is a Wisconsin native who enlisted in the US Army shortly after graduating high school. A combat-vet and former member of the 1st Calvary Division, Campbell trained at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia, before beginning her career with the Army Materiel Command Band. As a US Army trained bassist, Campbell has performed for troops around the world before joining forces with her current band, The Election, to create and perform original music.

Despicable Me

A few years ago my eleven year old sister was writing an essay on violence in schools. During our discussion of different types of violence, she astutely pointed out that not all violence is physical, and that a mean comment can be just as violent as a punch in the face. This led to an involved conversation about bullies in which, at one point, my sister looked at me and said, “I think bullies are mean to the kids at school because no one is nice to them at home.

The Carrie Diaries

Sex and the City the television series ended six years ago. One might find this hard to believe, considering the characters and the lavish lifestyles they live have been far from gone in the mainstream media.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Bella Swan has never been a character I’ve related to. She’s frustratingly timid, overwhelmingly insecure, and apparently has no interests or hobbies aside from her obsession with Edward Cullen. Sure, she’s had her redeeming moments, and yes, it was Bella who saved Edward from exposing himself to the Volturi in New Moon.

Get Him to the Greek

Aldous Snow (Russell Brand)—the uber-sexual, tongue-in-cheek (and anywhere else you’ll let him stick it) Brit-rocker introduced to audiences in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall—is back in the latest film from yet another member of the Apatow Film Club for Boys.

Was That Supposed To Be Funny?

One can never truly pinpoint what feminism looks like. Sometimes it’s the faces of celebrities, proudly claiming the F-word; sometimes it’s a swarm of protesters gathering on the National Mall. And sometimes it’s a crown of broccoli asserting its dancing ability to a bullying stalk of asparagus.

Afghan Star

One of my favorite bands, The Avett Brothers, have a lyric in one of their songs claiming, “May you never be embarrassed to sing.” Since viewing Havana Marking’s documentary, Afghan Star, this lyric has been on repeat in my brain, reminding me, as Afghan Star aptly illustrates, if embarrassment is all that we have to risk, the