Kenyon College

The American Fraternity

January 17, 2019–April 18, 2019  [+]

In a unique newly published book project, The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual, Cornell University professor and director of visual studies Andrew Moisey combines excerpted lofty oaths and secret rituals from a dogeared 50+-year-old leather-bound ritual manual he discovered in a vacated fraternity house with his own documentary photography of life in his younger brother’s Berkeley residential Greek house captured between 2000-2008; both remain unnamed. Interspersed in the book, styled after the found ritual manual, are historical images of fraternity men, buildings, and activities, collected through archival research.  Lists of the fraternity affiliations of U.S. government and corporate leaders—U.S. Presidents, Cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices, Senators, Fortune 500 CEOs—convey an implied question by Moisey about the entwined relationship between political and economic power, definitions of masculinity, and the complicated history and culture of some of America’s oldest secret collegiate societies.

This unique book project also includes an essay by Nicholas Syrett, a leading authority on the history of white fraternities in America and Chair of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas, and a creative response by novelist Cynthia Robinson. Tucked inside the book, like a long-lost college memory, is a faithful reproduction of an original folded and stapled anthropology assignment written by a fraternity member using his own Greek house and brothers as the subject with the teacher’s comments and a grade. This exhibition includes a small selection of images and text from the book project, as well as the original found ritual manual.

Opening Reception: Thursday, January 17, 5:00-8:00 PM

The Gund Gallery exhibitions and programs are made possible, in part, by the Gund Gallery Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.


Image: Andrew Moisey (American) Untitled, from the book The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual. Image courtesy of the artist.


The Gund Gallery at Kenyon College reserves the right not to publish anonymous posts or those made using falsified email addresses or identities.

Jeff Moritz

I am absolutely ashamed that Kenyon would host such an exhibit. Clearly, the only intent on the part of Gund Gallery is to offend, harass and ostracize a group of students on campus. Will the Gund Gallery be hosting photo exhibits that display stereotypes of other social groups on campus and then hold the photos out as if they are fact? Truly upsetting!

4 years ago
Natalie Marsh

Dear Mr. Pierce,

I’m sorry to read your comment in response to the description of our upcoming exhibition. You should know that Andrew Moisey’s project does not directly represent any fraternities at Kenyon and is based on photo documentation conducted at an unnamed fraternity on another campus in the 2000s. Dr. Moisey hopes our premier of The American Fraternity exhibition inspired by his creative book project, which was just named one of Time’s best 25 photo books of 2018, elicits thoughtful dialogue and contemplation. He echoes my concern that criticisms or praise should be based on viewing the exhibition, which will open in a few weeks on January 17th, and considering it alongside his book and research, in addition to talks, faculty panels, student research and other public programs. I invite you to visit and allow me to personally tour the exhibition with you and talk about the images and the book project so that, in the best tradition of the liberal arts and Kenyon College, we might have the chance to engage “simultaneously with the claims of different philosophies, of contrasting modes, of many liberal arts” as stated in the Kenyon College mission.

Dr. Natalie Marsh, Director

4 years ago
John palffy

So much for Kenyon’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, tolerance and rational thought. This book is so far from unbiased journalism. It is time for Kenyon to focus on diversity of thought

4 years ago
Jim Pierce

What a complete waste of time and money. More importantly, this is a classic example of how the progressive left is tearing the United States apart from limb to limb. It is shameful, divisive, untruthful, propagandist drivel. The Gund Gallery has demeaned itself, and by extension, Kenyon College.

4 years ago

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