University Writing & Research Conference Program Fall 2017

Fri, 20 October, 2017 10:00am

Fall 2017 Conference Schedule

All sessions are 50 minutes in length. Please arrive on time. Sessions will start promptly and sign-in sheets will only be circulated in the first 10 minutes of each session. Some sessions will fill quickly and moderators will not be able to admit late arrivals. Please also note that no food or drink is permitted in Ames Hall classrooms.

Session 1: Just Singing and Joking: Using Onstage Humor to Promote Public Debate

10AM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Tina Plottel, Research & User Services Librarian

Ketaki Deo- “"We're All Just Objects, Right?": YouTube Comedy Culture and its Impact on Inciting Dialogue on Dress Codes”
Professor Danika Myers

Dress codes have widely been criticized by students and scholars alike for their stance against individualism and expression, but often the discourse surrounding it has limitations. YouTube sketch comedy’s utilization of these mechanisms provides a uniquely artistic take on the argument against dress codes because of its appeal to the individual abilities of young people to fight against dress codes. I focus on 3 different vlogs in my study by three different users: Julhippo, Anna Russett, and Megan MacKay. Each analyzes school dress codes through a comedic lens and mirrors popular scholarly arguments against the gendered nature of dress codes using comedy and references to YouTube humor to soften the biting satire in between. I argue that YouTube comedy culture is uniquely positioned to make such arguments appealing to young women.

Gloria Han- “It’s Not Sad if It’s in a Song: Music as a Satirical Tool in Musical Theatre”
Professor Niles Tomlinson

For years, musical theatre has brought joy into the hearts and minds of upper, middle class, white suburbanites. Oftentimes, people assume that musicals are just inconsequential stories with green adults or cats that learned to talk. In reality, just beneath the surface, these musicals address much darker, serious themes and issues through the magic of theatre. Broadway has been home to many controversial satires like Urinetown, Avenue Q, and, more recently, The Book of Mormon, covering topics of economic inequality, racism, domestic abuse, religion. With songs like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” or “Hasa Diga Eebowai,” literally translated “F*** You God,” it is a wonder that audiences have not been more outraged. Music is a powerful tool that both serves to enhance satire and make it digestible for the audience. Song writers have been able to present these dark ideas through merry and up-beat show tunes, which in turn, makes the unacceptable, acceptable.

Session 2: Unlocking Hidden Meanings: Reading Symbolic Objects in Shakespearean Culture

10AM (Ames B205)
Moderator: Rachel Pollack, Instructor, University Writing Program

Lixue Chen- “Keys Unlock Shakespearean World”
Professor Rachel Pollack

This essay explores the history of keys and examines symbolic and metaphoric interpretations of keys during the Shakespearean times. It first examines the relationship between the control over keys and their symbolic meaning to prisoners using the historical story of Queen Mary of Scots. Then, it delves into the history of heraldic use of keys, which derives from Christian story of Saint Peter and keys of the heaven, and later was extended to the coats of arms of families and cities in England and other European countries. Additionally, the object also has substantial sexual connotation and are used between lovers; during the seventeenth century this connotation is widely displayed in such works as Vermeer’s Maid Asleep. The control over house keys could also symbolize marriage and  a mistress’ position at home during the Shakespearean time. With various different interpretations in Shakespeare's works, keys are present with various functions in many scenes and are conferred with different connotations. By examining different appearances of keys on the stage in Shakespeare’s plays, and by analyzing the social and historical context of keys in relation to other artworks, one will have a deeper understanding of the linguistic and symbolic significance of keys in English.

Shiyi Lin- “Shakespeare and Botany ”
Professor Rachel Pollack

This essay analyses metaphors of plants, particularly mandrake, rhubarb, narcissus, mulberry and anemone, in William Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. It is likely that Shakespeare referred to a well-known Elizabethan botanical book, The Herball, Generall Historie of Plants, by John Gerard (1545-1612), when he made plant references in his works. Despite being accused of plagiarism, Gerard’s Herball was popular during the Elizabethan era and was considered as the most comprehensive book in this field. Gerard’s Herball had great influences on Shakespeare’s knowledge about botany as well as Elizabethan gardens. Additionally, I make connections to Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which the main characters become flowers in the end of the story. I also explain the possible usages of plants mentioned by Shakespeare for both medical and mythical purposes in the Elizabethan times. Furthermore, the connections of these plants to ancient Chinese medicine are examined. Finally, I explore the importance of horticulture and gardening in the Elizabethan era and describe the Elizabethan gardens that Shakespeare might have visited, in order to provide a reason for his in-depth botanical knowledge.

Session 3: Orale Ese: The Stereotypical Mexican Cholo

10AM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Fred Joutz, Professor of Economics, Co-Director of the Research Program on Forecasting

Evelyn Arredondo Ramirez- “Orale Ese: The Stereotypical Mexican Cholo”
Professor Bernardita Yunis

During the late 80s and 90s, through the usage of gangster films produced in Hollywood, Mexicans were misrepresented to all be part of the Mexican Mafia that known to be collectively cold-blooded murderers. Hence, prove that these films fuel the Latino Threat Narrative the press tried to place over Mexicans during the investigated time frame. Chavez describes the Latino Threat Narrative as, “focusing on four basic premises of what Chavez (2008) has called The Latino Threat Narrative, (henceforth, LTN), a set of culturally entrenched discourses that constructs US Latinos as linguistically and culturally dangerous” (Carter 210).  The films in the late 1980s and early 1990s created a negative stigma and added to the credibility of the Latino Threat Narrative. This only hurt Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and Chicanos to the point that discrimination occurred. Immigrants now suffer from those stereotypes and hurtful rhetoric is spewed about Mexicans to this day. Mexican heritage and culture values family, education, friendships and should not be portrayed as killers. 

Session 4: Structural Inequality in American Cities

1130AM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Leila Kramer, Learning Specialist, Disability Support Services

Madalena Monnier-Reyna- “Neoliberalism and Social Democracy; A Look at Midwestern Cities and Economic Development Plans”
Professor Rachel Riedner

This paper uses economic development theories to address issues of inequality in Chicago and other Midwestern cities. Using geographic and economic writers, I argue neoliberal policies were uneven development that did little to address issues of inequality within these American cities. I then argue for a shift to social democratic policies, and use the Nordic model and Detroit’s recent divergence from traditional development, respectfully, as an example of success and an example of how American cities might arrive at social democracy. By doing so I hope to provide a solution to bridging the highly divided society of Chicago.

Arion Laws- “How and to What Extent Has the American War on Drugs Impacted Social Relationships Between African American Communities and Law Enforcement in Charleston, South Carolina?”
Professor Robin Marcus

As a youth growing up in the Holy City surrounded by immense wealth, I found a disparity when it came to the relationships with the police and differing communities. I wanted to explore this by researching the troubled past of Charleston, South Carolina, by correlating my research with the American War on Drugs.

Session 5: Strategizing for Independence: Learning from the Black Panthers and the Brazilian Independence Movements

1130AM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Katherine Anderson Howell, Disability Support Associate, Disability Support Services

Nate Sumimoto- “The Black Panther Party: Modern Lessons”
Professor Robin Marcus

This paper is a historical analysis of the two primary strategic actions utilized by the Black Panther Party (armed deterrence of police brutality and public services) with the goal of ascertaining what actions ought be emulated by today's Black Lives Matter movement. It discusses the ideological justifications for both actions while simultaneously analyzing their efficacy and impact. Ultimately, it concludes that while both were important for the Black Panthers overall movement, the public services were considered to be most threatening by the state and one that was extremely impactful for people on the ground.  

Helena Iserhard- “The Economic and Political Effects of Brazilian Independence”
Professor Susan Koenig

Brazil’s independence process was not a war or declaration like what one would expect from a colony in the European colonial era. Many assume Brazil had an independence just like the United States, Mexico or even Argentina, but it was very different. Brazilians never went to war for independence, instead it was, in a way, given to them. In the aforementioned countries, individuals that were either born, raised or helped develop the colony fought against the colonizers for the independence of their land. In Brazil, it was a Prince, a ruling member of the colonial power, that declared independence -without Brazilians having to declare war or assemble an army. But, how did Brazil’s uncommon process of independence affect the country’s development?  This paper argues that process of Brazilian independence brought positive economic development both in the short and long-term, but the country lacked a progressive government to create its foundations, which led to a historically weak political system. Effects of Brazil’s unique process of independence can be seen to this day, not only in the structure of the country, but also the institutions and the people.

Session 6: The Musical Brain

1130AM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Mary Buckley, Elizabeth J. Somers Women’s Leadership Program Director and Associate Professor of Dance

Seraina Schottland- “Music Education and Its Effect on Developmental Neuroplasticity ”
Professor Matthew Riley

As it has been recently discovered, neuroplasticity does not only occur in the critical developmental stages of the brain. Plasticity is a strong part of brain development that occurs all through your life, however; building one’s neuroplasticity in critical regions of the brain during childhood can condition the brain to be more resilient in times of trauma or when other negative stimuli is present. It has also been studied and shown that musicians have different structures in the brain such as a larger corpus callosum and excel in auditory, spatial and mathematical skills. This paper discusses the relationship between instrumental training, neural structures and positive behavioral changes that suggest that practicing music can lead to a healthier and stronger brain. Furthermore, the data presented supports why music education during childhood and adolescent years should be encouraged in the education system.

Jordan Kuklin- “The Biological Foundations of Human Musicality”
Professor Matthew Riley

Music has long been regarded as an important source of art and entertainment, serving a central role in human culture everywhere. This ubiquity has led scholars from many fields to ask the question of how music came to be. While cognitive scientists characterize music as the product of cognitive architecture, biological anthropologists have contended that music functions as the downstream result of natural selection. Neuroscientists argue that music is innate, but is assembled from other faculties that were not originally designed for its purposes. Contemporary musicians and ethnomusicologists reinforce the importance of considering cultural variance in the discussion of the potential divergent evolution of music. This group, primarily composed of composers, argues that musical preference is culturally-specific, suggesting music can be modified by exposure alone. Similarly, musicologists study music as a socially constructed idea that varies culturally, rejecting cross-cultural explanations for the development of music. Yet, this paper contends that a common, biological and cognitive explanation serves as the foundation to even the world’s diverse musical cultures. While different disciplines approach the question of the evolution of music through a different lens, this essay will consider whether or not music is, indeed, an innate mechanism, or is merely culturally constructed. This essay will attempt to consider a variety of perspective and evidence as it relates to the biological and cognitive foundation of music. I will consider the claims of a slew of fields, forwarding the present work by suggesting that while music has cultural and regional components, the foundation of music rests in evolution and biology.

Session 7: The Importance of Political Satire during the Trump Era

1PM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Bill Gillis, Director of Research Services, The George Washington University Libraries

Emmanuel Porro- “The Importance of Political Satire During the Trump Era”
Professor Bernardita Yunis

The rise of political satire during election cycles is not new (Weinhold 520). What is new, however, are the outrageous and controversial policies proposed by the United States current president, Donald Trump. The $15 billion wall (Drew), the Muslim ban, the massive budget cuts for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and even the threat of a nuclear war with North Korea has managed to spark fear and anger amongst many Americans. To relieve stress and anxiety, some people rely on their families, their friends, their social medias/blogs, etc. Some people, however, turn to political satire and comedy to find haven in the craziness that is the Trump Presidency. In this essay, I will argue why comedy, but more specifically political satire used in late night TV shows, is important during the Trump presidency. I will construct and support my arguments based on gelotology research (the study of laughter), scholarly articles regarding political satire/TV shows and newspapers articles. My thesis indicates not only how the political satire portrayed on late night TV shows helps people process the outrageous actions and statements done by the Trump administration, but it also highlights democratic ideals at the same time it educates the public about current affairs.

Session 8: The Wheelchair: A Freighted Vehicle in an Impaired Culture

1PM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Francys Subiaul, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Science

Madeleine Brown- “Rampant Ableism: An Analysis of How Media Continually Gets Disability Wrong”
Professor Wade Fletcher

Disability Studies has been debated through many lenses, generally concluding it is vital to understand how intersectionality plays a role in the way society receives disability. By framing disability as a social identity, one can better understand how physical impairment and social construction overlap, and effect able-bodied perception of disability. Although there is agreement among many disability scholars, these viewpoints have not spread far beyond the circles of academia. The entertainment industry has greatly contributed to the persisting and exclusionary practices of society against people with disabilities. Specifically focusing on the image of the wheelchair, images chosen from Avatar, Glee, and Me Before You represent different disability tropes that create inaccurate stereotypes about people with disabilities that have been instilled by oppressive and discriminatory tropes in entertainment. This reality is dangerous because much of human experience and opinion is made up of what we watch and read. The media is incredibly powerful in shaping public opinion, and if they are sending the wrong message about disability, the entire community suffers.

Ian Maurer - “FDR's Public Memory: To Portray the Wheelchair ”
Professor Gordon Mantler

For my final paper, I focused on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, located on the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. FDR is famous for his polio diagnosis and ability to direct the country through two of its toughest periods, the Great Depression and World War II, from the confinements of a wheelchair. However, when his Memorial was constructed, the designer decided to not portray FDR's disability. My paper is essentially divided into two parts. First, I evaluate why FDR's memorial was designed the way it was and if it accurately portrays his personal life and presidency. Second, I make the claim for why FDR's polio diagnosis should have been included in the original design and what it symbolizes for America today.

Session 9: Mind-Brain-Body Solutions: Addressing Symptoms and Syndromes

1PM (Ames B205)
Moderator: Yolanda M. Fortenberry, Assistant Professor, University Honors Program, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology

Bibhas Amatya- “ Dalcroze Eurythmics: A New Approach”
Professor Matthew Riley

This research will analyze on different techniques, diverse clinical trials and mechanics of the Dalcroze Eurythmics and how It serves as a promising intervention for various symptoms of Dementia.

Mary DePaul- “Portrayal of Tourette’s Syndrome in The Road Within”
Professor Caroline Smith

This paper argues that Gren Wells’s film The Road Within begins to break away from harsh stereotypes of mental illness but ends up reinforcing stigma involving Tourette’s Syndrome. She breaks from the stereotypes that have often been used in film that involve dehumanized individuals that are ostracized due to their disorder by creating a narrative the audience can understand. She wrote a movie that showed mental illness as a part of every day life instead of something that is locked away in a facility. While she made some progress, she ultimately ended up reinforcing the stigma of what it means to have Tourette’s Syndrome by creating a very limited portrayal of Tourette’s that uses common film stereotypes.

Session 10: Black Ops: The Socio-Political Tactics of African-American Dance and Music

1PM (Ames B117)
Moderator: Joscelyn Leventhal, Online Education and Off-Campus Services Librarian

Thomas Arena - “Vogue is the Message”
Professor Robin Marcus

My UW research paper explored the development of Vogue, a style of dance mostly performed by gay African-American men. The research paper delved into the environment in which this art-form was created, and the way in which it grew in response to changing political, and cultural climate. The paper expounds on what the actual dance moves which give this style of dance its unique look, while also looking at the greater implications of the dance on the gay black community. Voguing developed as an artistic response to the hatred and neglect which gay black men faced in the 20th century, and as a way to give voice to a community which has been disregarded for decades. The paper was constructed to reflect a Vogue performance by linking key parts of the performance to pivotal moments in its development, from its infancy from the 20’s to the 60’s, to its prominence in the 70’s and 80’s, to its fall in the 90’s, and to its resurgence in the 00’s. The paper’s central theme centered around the question of how Vogueing fit itself into the tapestry of black culture in America.

Abigail Yohannes- “Beats to March to: Hip Hop's Influence on Environmental Justice”
Professor Bernardita Yunis

It began with an assigned reading for UW class, Robert Cox’s “Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere.” The content of this reading was so interesting that I decided to center my research around environmental justice, a branch of civil rights that I wanted to become more familiar with. According to Cox, environmental justice is the “calls to recognize and halt the disproportionate burdens imposed on poor and minority communities by environmentally harmful conditions.” Some well-known examples of these issues include the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and the Dakota Access Pipeline. As I began collecting research, I came across a Flint native rapper, Jon Connor. His song “Fresh Water for Flint” shed a light on the long lasting neglect his heavily minority based community faced from its government. I was moved by his recollection of the numerous civil rights issues permeating his area that led to the water crisis. This song helped me decide on my topic, which became investigating hip hop’s influence on environmental justice. I decided to use Connor's song to represent hip hop in the environment justice realm and Cox's text to help me analyze the song as well as other evidence I would later find to help prove hip hop's legitimacy in this movement. To accomplish all of this, I pulled sources that gave more background information on environmental justice, civil rights, the history of hip hop, and how hip hop has influence in the classroom, pop culture, and civil rights specifically.

Session 11: A Digestible Education: Making Sense of Schools and Meals

1PM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Moses S. Schanfield, Professor of Forensic Science and Anthropology

Talia Clement- “Ward One: The Achievement Gap in Three Schools”
Professor Phyllis Ryder

This essay is a case study of three schools in Ward One of Washington, DC. The case study challenges and expands upon theories set forth by Ladson-Billings (2006) and Milner (2013) to understand how concepts of the education debt and the opportunity gap are being addressed in schools. Analysis of the schools aims to determine why an achievement gap exists between the three schools in the study and what model of school is the most effective for the Ward One neighborhood. The schools are analyzed using the five-factor model created by Bryk and his colleagues (2010). The findings indicate that Benjamin Banneker Academic High School is a school model that others should seek to emulate, but the school still has many areas for improvement. All three schools Benjamin Banneker, Columbia Heights Educational Campus, and Cardozo Education Campus are working to tailor their programs to the needs of their individual students, and each can learn from other schools in the area. The conclusion of the essay is that an education debt and opportunity gap still exist within the DC Public School system, but the schools are actively working toward closing that gap, which provides hope for creating a future of equal education.

Danielle Tse- “The Main Course: Examining the Significance of the Discourse Community to Spoon University
Professor Sandie Friedman

Spoon University (Spoon) is a food publication for college students coping with changes in dining options, schedules, incomes, and social lives. College students contribute easy-to-understand articles, recipes, and restaurant reviews with the purpose of making food make sense to their peers. As contributors and editors use specific genres and communications to achieve Spoon’s goal of being a food resource, Spoon fits John Swales’ model of a discourse community. However, Spoon’s discourse community is unique; it cannot achieve its goals unless it engages people outside the immediate discourse community of writers and editors—readers. This article examines how Spoon recruits readers to achieve its goals. I analyze how Spoon’s mandatory writing program trains contributors to treat readers as relevant and relatable actors in Spoon articles. With readers fundamentally written into articles, I argue Spoon’s targeted writing prompts a food movement by challenging the student-food relationship. I conclude by examining discourse community member threshold, claiming that when Spoon treats readers as part of the discourse community, they become more involved in the change Spoon stands to create. The goal of recruiting readers, therefore, must precede Spoon’s other goals because without college readers, Spoon cannot act as a food resource, much less foment a college food movement.

Session 12: Black Power and Anti-Blackness: Race, Identity, and Activism

230PM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Bailey Bystry, Junior, Elliott School of International Affairs

Ireti Akinde- “Why does Anti-Blackness Thrive in Latinx Communities?”
Professor Bernardita Yunis

White supremacy and false notions of racial unity have played pivotal roles in suppressing blackness throughout the world. The ideology of color-blind racism is perpetuated in all Latin American countries; by combining ethno-nationalism and ignoring the topic of race in their national discourse, Latin American countries have rejected blackness and marked it as “other.” Colorism or the preferential treatment of people based on skin color has given certain privileges to people with “European” physical attributes and lighter complexions. Afro-Latinx have been historically marginalized and discriminated members of Latinx communities. Understanding how many countries have gone as far as completely erasing their Afro-Latinx history and African influences allows us to comprehend its implications on identity within the Latinx diaspora in the United States. Even today the context and significance of anti-blackness is not fully acknowledged or understood. I examined the environments that allowed ideologies of anti-blackness and colorism to develop into a generational cultivation. I argued that by violently suppressing black racial pride, emphasizing a national identity, and dismissing the existence of a black population, Latin American countries have allowed Afro-Latinx populations to continue to be categorized as oppositional identities. 

Colin Wills- “Rasing Arms to Raise Awareness: Imagery of Iconic Activism in the Olympics”
Professor Wade Fletcher

In this project, I argued for the necessity of activism in the Olympics in order to achieve the global social harmony mission as outlined in the Olympic Charter itself. The symbolism that can be expressed through an image allowed such protests to permeate the globe and the consciences of the viewers, whether it be forming a global coalition or vexing vast populations, their voices could be heard and their actions could be seen. The unique globally interlinking stage offered by the Olympics isn’t just an attractive stage for activism, it is one, I concluded, that must be utilized in order to externalize their cause and ensure the rights of humans and the integrity of global social harmony.

Session 13: Coming to (and Staying in) America: Public Narratives of Immigration and Survival

230PM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Elizabeth Chacko, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Geography & International Affairs

Natalie Danett- “The Implications of Immigration Narratives”
Professor Rachel Riedner

This paper uses the New York Times piece “‘My First Day in America’: Seeing Truman” by Nadia Danett as a case study for the implications of romanticization of immigration in narratives. I first lay out the specific rhetorical characteristics of this story that constitute it as an exemplary immigration narrative. I go on to explore the idea of perception: the purpose of this narrative, proof the narrative was romanticized, and an example of how the narrative was received by a reader. I then detail the consequences, both negative and positive, of romanticizing immigration narratives. Finally, I explore the idea that narratives shape nations. Through a close reading of “‘My First Day in America’: Seeing Truman,” this paper will examine the widespread influence romanticized narratives have on immigration, people, and nations.

Elena Johnston- “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Japanese American Incarceration and the Current Political Atmosphere ”
Professor Gordon Mantler

In 1942, war hysteria and enduring anti-Asian racism culminated with Executive Order 9066 and the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese Americans in camps across the country. Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government was quick to transform the country’s wartime fears into a misguided and racially-motivated attack on a historically marginalized group of people. The years that followed serve as a reminder of the long history of racial intolerance and xenophobia in America. My paper, “Two Sides of the Same Coin: Japanese American Incarceration and the Current Political Atmosphere,” analyzes the National Museum of American History’s “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” exhibit for its effectiveness in capturing the historical context of Executive Order 9066 and for the significance of its display during the current political environment. In an age of alarmingly polarized politics, President Trump has engendered feelings of paranoia among the American public as Muslim bans, border walls, refugee-exclusion orders, and large-scale immigration reform become grim realities. To avoid sacrificing democratic ideals, the public must reflect on Japanese American incarceration, one of the darkest episodes of our Nation’s past, and recognize the grave injustices that result from prejudice, rampant scapegoating, and discrimination.

Session 14: From ‘Frozen’ to ‘Wild’: Interpreting Modern Feminism through Film

230PM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Sandie Friedman, Assistant Professor, University Writing Program

Sophie Rickless- “Sense and Sensibility, Frozen, and the Accountability of Feminism”
Professor Susan Koenig

In this paper, I compare the novel Sense and Sensibility with the movie Frozen in an attempt to analyze whether Jane Austen has withstood the test of time with respect to feminist ideals. Disney’s Frozen is quite like Austen’s novel in broad plotlines, and has been similarly hailed as a feminist breakthrough, which forms my basis for comparison. I draw inspiration from Margaret Kirkham’s passage on feminism as accountability, and define “accountability” with assistance from philosophers Angela Smith and Michael McKenna. I also briefly discuss Diana Myers’s theories on feminism in academia to specify the gap in the literature I seek to fill. From there, I dive into the details of both works. Ultimately, I find that while Jane Austen more explicitly focuses on moral responsibility in her own work, because Frozen’s only measure of accountability is the devising of the character’s fates (and the protagonists and antagonists--male and female--all meet ends befitting their actions), Frozen may be said to be more feminist. However, it is important to note that this is merely one woman’s working definition, and that it is impossible in this space to adequately analyze all aspects of feminism in these two works.

Laura Geraci- “Women in the Wilderness: How Wild Rewrites the Traditional “Nature” Narrative”
Professor Caroline Smith

This research explores how Wild director Jean-Marc Vallée interpreted the role of women in the wilderness in his film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 memoir. After examining several sources that include a comparison of girl scout and boy scout manuals, an analysis of the idea of “rugged individualism,” and a commentary on "Democracy in America," it becomes evident that Vallée sought to rupture the stereotype that the wilderness belongs only to white college-educated males, an idea set forth by the transcendental movement and reinforced throughout American history. This paper asserts that Vallée’s portrayal of Strayed during her time seeking solace on the Pacific Crest Trail has resulted in the first time that a female figure has been portrayed in the wilderness as being independent and self-sufficient, traits that were previously considered to be masculine, and risen to this degree of popular success.

Session 15: The Whole World is Watching? Activism and Reinvention at GW

230PM (Ames B109)
Moderator: David Lemmons, Manager, Eckles Library

Zachary Williams- “The Campus that Never Was”
Professor Phillip Troutman

Williams analyzes the intentions, importance of Beaux Arts architecture and architects, as well as the development of The George Washington University during the 1890s and early 1900s. In 1902, Charles W. Needham became President of Columbian College and as the new president planned to turn Columbian into the national university it was meant to be. A partnership with the George Washington Memorial Association fostered an architectural competition for a new campus. Charles F. McKim, a Beaux Arts architect and is responsible for designing Columbia University, the East and West Wings of the White House, and was a member of the McMillan Plan. Williams concludes the importance of McKim serving on the jury was an attempt by President Needham to ensure the reinvention of Columbian into a national university was a success.

Brennan Bok- ““45 Hard Core, Ass-Busting, Radicals;” Students for a Democratic Society on the March at the George Washington University”
Professor Phillip Troutman

Bok dives into the tumultuous period of the late 1960s by looking at how militant activism rocked the George Washington University.  Specifically, Bok looks at the activities of the GWU chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society, a new left activist group of approximately 40 students.  Nationally, S.D.S. had gained notoriety for for their militant and often violent activism on college campuses.  Led by GWU student Nick Greer, the chapter held multiple events during the spring semester of 1969.  Most notoriously, in March of that year they took over Maury Hall, which housed the Sino-Soviet Institute and resulted in thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, and later occupied Rice Hall.

Session 16: Women at GW: Federal Reform and Gender Equality on the Modern Campus

410PM (Ames B101)
            Moderator: Ann Brown, Research and User Services Librarian

Emma Kraus- “Title IX and Women’s Athletics at George Washington University, 1970-1985”
Professor Phillip Troutman

In her paper entitled “Title IX and Women’s Athletics at George Washington University, 1970-1985,” Emma Kraus details the effects of Title IX on the women’s athletics organizations of The George Washington University. Kraus begins her paper by summarizing the legal framework of Title IX. Kraus then displays GW’s attempts at implementation and reform through the lenses of institutional administrators, athletic faculty, and finally the students and athletes themselves. She describes a fairly compliant administration and a restructuring of athletic funding to allow for growth in the women’s athletic program as early as 1975, using the GW newspaper, The Hatchet and The Cherry Tree yearbooks as reference material. As Kraus investigates further, she finds that Lynn George, then the Women’s Athletics Director, seemed to lead Title IX reform on campus. Through an interview with Jeannie Dahnk, an All-American GW diver from 1977-1981, Kraus discovers that George’s attempts seemed to be successful, as Jeannie recalls no sense of discrimination or inequality of opportunity at this critical turning point in women’s athletics. Kraus concludes that GW was a fairly progressive institution with regards to Title IX reform, and was overwhelmingly successful in their implementation efforts.

Abigail Sharp- “Women of the George Washington University after World War II”
Professor Phillip Troutman

Abigail Sharp investigates how the perspective and enrollment of college women were affected by World War II and the G.I. Bill at the George Washington University.  By looking through The Cherry Tree and other archival materials, Sharp analyzes images of women from before and after the war to identify a shift.  She claims that the college women on campus became more involved in campus life and focused on academics following World War II.  To see how college women at GW compared to other universities nationally, Sharp offers background about the studies by the University of California, Berkeley, who saw a shift in the value of women on its campus that soon faded, and the University of Cincinnati, who believed that their shift of women was clearly temporary and did not have any further implications.  Unlike these universities, Sharp claims GW had a distinctive change in the mentality of college women on campus.  To show the advancement of college women further, she examines the 1946 graduate Margaret Truman.  Sharp concludes by establishing the greater significance of the research, which suggests that World War II helped in allowing college women to become valued assets on the George Washington University campus.

Session 17: Gamepiece of Thrones: Dutch Hierarchy and Colonization through Landscape Art and Objects

410PM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Rachel Pollack, Instructor, University Writing Program

Anthony Dal Pos- “Aristocratic Ambitions: Gamepieces in the Dutch Golden Age”
Professor Rachel Pollack

The dutch gamepiece, once seen as a graceful medium often lacking creativity, is in fact a symbol of luxury and rebellion. In this presentation, I address the cultural significance of the gamepiece and the socio-political context which both nurtured and demanded their creation.

Shruti Kumar- “  A Romanticization of a Colonial Past: An Analysis of the Imperialistic Aspects of Frans Post’s A Brazilian Landscape”
Professor Rachel Pollack

Landscape paintings during the seventeenth century were some of the most prestigious works of art during the Dutch Golden Age. Collectors prized paintings depicting the Dutch countryside, however, those who wanted more exotic depictions of various far off lands chose to accumulate landscape depictions of the Netherlands colonial holdings. These landscape paintings differed only slightly from the routinely viewed paintings of the Dutch countryside; they featured widely different flora and fauna while still portraying sloping hills and the blessed divine light of god gracing the lands surface. However, within these depictions of these far off landscapes is a hidden savagery burgeoning under the guise of a serene country side. These paintings portrayed the colonial holdings as peaceful, calm, and inherently Dutch showcasing the imperialistic tendencies of the Netherlands and hiding the savage and brutal treatment of the local indigenous people. When art historians view landscape paintings from this time period they analyze it through a patronizing lens. They fail to understand and describe the context in which these works were created and that these paintings romanticize the process of colonization and normalize the suffering that the indigenous Brazilian people faced. Though these landscape paintings are beautiful and striking as depictions of the Brazilian countryside, they showcase how people have a tendency to assuage aspects of human life they find unappealing, and amplify those they find beautiful regardless of the harm and skewed views this creates.

Session 18: Media Framing of Conservative Icons

410PM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Max Markey, Sophomore, Elliott School of International Affairs

Olivia Dupree- “Milo’s Fall From Conservative Grace: The Role of Scandal in Popularity Among Political Pundits”
Professor Michael Svoboda

Using framing and Moral Foundations Theory, this article analyzed forty Op-Eds about Milo Yiannopoulos between February 1 to February 23, the time period between the Berkeley riots to Yiannopoulos’ resignation from Breitbart News. The research found that by the end of this time period, both Republican and Democratic pundits criticized Yiannopoulos. Left-leaning writers used individualistic foundations to continuously criticize Yiannopoulos’ character, ideology, and behavior; however, right-leaning authors’ opinions evolved from a defense to an open condemnation of Yiannopoulos through appeals to liberty/oppression and sanctity/degradation. The conversation on Yiannopoulos media coverage during this time period helps facilitate broader conversations among pundits, reporters, and political scientists about the roles that political scandal, institutional media bias, hate speech, and controversial ideologies like the alternative right have in American politics and public opinion. Understanding the fall of Milo Yiannopoulos helps one analyze fluctuations in the Trump administration’s favorability ratings among the general public and media.

Daniel Wagner- “Cover Stories: An Analysis of Potential Visual Bias in Time Magazine Covers”
Professor Michael Svoboda

Using social semiotics, I will analyze Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” covers (POY) to identify any biases in how Time portrayed President Elect Donald Trump. Through social semiotics I will analyze the images in three ways, ideational, interpersonal, and textual and compile the information to compare how different figures are portrayed. I expect to find that there are implicit biases in Time’s portrayal of Donald Trump. This would be highly significant because Time is one of the most widely read newsmagazines in the country, if they are portraying public figures in biased ways it would be a major concern to their readers.


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