University Writing & Research Conference Program Fall 2018
Fall 2018 Conference Schedule
All sessions are 50 minutes in length. Please arrive on time and plan to stay for the entire session, including the Q&A, which is an important part of the panel discussion. Sessions will start promptly, and some sessions will fill quickly; moderators will not be able to admit late arrivals. Sign-in sheets will only be circulated in the first 10 minutes of each session. Please also note that no food or drink is permitted in Ames Hall classrooms.
Session 1: Lost Iconographies, Lost Languages
10AM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Leila Kramer
Chigozie Anyanwu- “Decoding the Obama Presidential Portrait”
Professor Rachel Pollack
To truly understand President Obama’s presidential portrait, it is important to study the oeuvre of the artist, Kehinde Wiley. Wiley defines portraiture as "the ability to position your body in the world for the world to celebrate you on your own terms." Due to their subjective nature, portraits can be very telling of one's past and even foreshadow their impacts on the future. To convey the essence of his own tenure, Obama selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait in 2017. Wiley is known for is his paintings of African-Americans and reinterpretations of classic European artworks. He claims to draw inspiration from "a long line of portraitists, including Reynolds, Gainsborough, Titian, Ingres, among others…", but fails to mention the vital influence of 17th century Dutch civic guard portraiture that he has applied to numerous of his paintings. As Dutch civic guards gradually lost their military function, their portraits did the same through the addition of elaborate gesture, props, clothing, and backgrounds. The portraits became a way to compensate for their lost purpose. Wiley recognized the façade of 17th century civic guard portraiture and purposely omitted Dutch civic guard iconography in Obama's portrait to emphasize his true glory.
Desiree Gonzalez- “Dying Languages, Living Tongues ”
Professor Marcos Martinez
My research paper connects the ancient with the present. Through specific cases across the globe it analyzes and provides concrete examples of how native languages are disappearing at a rapid rate. Language is more than just a form of expression, it ties cultural, traditional, and environmental aspects of reality tightly. Furthermore, languages aren't only spoken, they are sung, written, drawn, whistled, and so forth. Once a language is lost so are the stories and information of the past that these last speakers carry with them, making the past an anomaly and disconnecting us from our identities. Some reasons for these disparities are cross cultural assimilation, colonization, economic factors and political factors. Oppression of native tongues is implemented by the social and political structures in place that can make this form of expression prohibited. If governments were to protect and assist these communities, allowing them to maintain their ancestral roots, it may be possible to revitalize and document what is being lost. It is up to institutions of higher education, governments, and nonprofit organizations to work alongside natives to create online resources that can be used for generations to come. It will take a wider global recognition and interest through social media and online platforms.Overall, this paper discusses the lasting impact of losing languages, the importance of linguistic diversity and Intellectual Property Rights, and what needs to be done to protect these dying languages.
Session 2: Law Enforcement and Labor
10AM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Morgan Stoddard
Alex Neumann- “Doubled Sided Shield: The Duality of Law Enforcement Imagery in Recent News Media”
Professor Michael Svoboda
This project analyzes online news images of law enforcement during four recent major American policing events. Qualitative visual analysis was used to sort images in order to determine in what light American police, notably their militarized units, are portrayed. The final breakdown of this analytical process compared visual representation of militarized police in online news media changes between crowd control situations and stopping a shooting. This study was conducted to better understand the presence of media bias when covering police, as well as how situational changes affect the visual portrayal of law enforcement.
Emily Baum- “Labour in the American Prison System and the Potential For Greater Rehabilitative Justice Reform”
Professor Wade Fletcher
Currently, the United States has a higher percentage of its population incarcerated than any other country in the world and, given the sheer number of inmates, examining current prison policies and their effectiveness in deterring future crime is crucial. This paper specifically analyzes the use of prison labour in the American prison system. Scholarly research analyzes the psychological impact on inmates, legal ramifications based on national and international labour standards, and recidivism rates - a popular metric for measuring the success of prison policies; this paper concludes that forced prison labour in its current form is not an effective way to rehabilitate prisoners. If the goal of prisons is to punish and deter crime, current research suggests that it is failing on the latter front; currently, prisons appear more focused on covering costs than prisoner care. However, further research provides alternative methods of rehabilitating prisoners, such as focusing on mental health services and training inmates in skilled professions. These changes to the prison system are more likely to reduce recidivism and help inmates become fully contributing members of society upon release.
Session 3: Opening the Hearts and Minds of America
10AM (Ames B112)
Moderator: Timothy Kane
Bennett Levy- “Opening the Hearts and Minds Of America”
Professor Eric Botts
Diverse interactions and relationships between people and animals have been recorded throughout human history, and continue to evolve as we gain more insight into animal behaviors. When Morris Frank, a former athlete and independent spirit lost his vision, it was his steadfast belief in the power of canine companionship that enabled a paradigm change empowering the blind with newfound freedoms. Frank, one of the most influential champions for the rights of the blind, imported the concept of seeing-eye dogs from Europe. Dedicating decades of his life to creating training centers and pairing people with canine companions, Frank also spearheaded changes in legislation allowing working dogs in almost all public places.
Frank’s largest obstacle was the misconception that humans could not reliably outsource sight to animal companions. Therefore, the blind were completely dependent on others, often resulting in isolation. Frank and his seeing-eye dog Buddy paraded around the United States, crossing busy streets, and mingling through crowds deftly, astonishing onlookers with their newfound independence. Frank and Buddy challenged societal and institutional norms, leaving a legacy of independence and integration for future generations of the visually impaired.
Session 4: New Challenges from Students to States
10AM (Ames B201)
Lindsay Truesdale - “Student-Led Movements: Examining political change through the youth.”
Professor Rachel Riedner
This paper uses student leaders from the gun-control movement following the Parkland shooting to launch a discussion on the nature of youth-led political movements. Utilizing both historical and communications studies to guide my understanding, I develop the idea that student leaders must establish their authority by relying on their experience and a sense of comradery with their peers. Through rhetorical analysis, I note the way in which students engage with the most prominent forms of media in their times and establish their mastery over crafting a political spectacle. I seek to promote a more in-depth understanding as to why students are an effective instrument of political change and I question why established adult-authority works to undermine youth constituents.
Sean M O'Neil- “21st Century NATO”
Professor Marcos Martinez
In my project I focus on the modern challenges the NATO alliance is facing, and offer solutions. Namely the challenges are as follows: structural flaws, terrorism, immigration, and Russian soft power.
Session 5: Clothing, Climate and Environmental Rhetorics
10AM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Lindsay Jacoby
Lauren Bolger- “The Unsustainable Truth About Shopping Sustainably: Second-hand Clothing and Overconsumption”
Professor Danika Meyers
In this paper, I discussed the sustainable alternative to fast fashion: second-hand clothing and how its quick consumption, via the internet, may be transforming it into an alternative that is no more sustainable than fast fashion. To determine the sustainability of this alternative, I turned to the app, Depop, and assessed its convenience on a number of levels: access, search, evaluation, and transaction. Using these levels of convenience, I investigated the description of Depop and the app itself, including its many features. I concluded that the overconsumption of online, second-hand clothing, brought on by increased accessibility, is driving the unsustainable industry of fast fashion. In this way, second-hand clothing online is caught up in a cycle of unsustainability that can have detrimental effects on the environment. The solution is for consumers to become more aware of their clothing choices and their impact.
Riya Gavaskar- “A Politician’s Guide to Hiding Climate Skepticism: President Trump’s Remarks on the Paris Climate Agreement ”
Professor Lindsay Dunne Jacoby
The work of environmental advocates to control the effects of climate change has been marred by the intentional politicization of environmental legislation in American politics. This is evident especially in the Trump administration, which has upheld an agenda that has relapsed into climate skepticism and anti-environmental legislation. This skepticism culminated into a speech made by President Trump on June 1st, 2017 in which he announced America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement — a historic international agreement to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, I use the framing analysis in Matthew Nisbet’s article “Communicating Climate Change: Why Frames Matter for Public Engagement” to analyze President Trump’s ability to hide climate skepticism in his speech. While the economic frame and uncertainty frame were often used by traditional climate skeptics like Senator James Inhofe to discredit environmental policy as untrue or anti-industry, President Trump uses broader frames to appeal to a wider audience. Hoping to not come off as a climate denialist, President Trump relies on economic arguments, ad-hominem attacks on world leaders, and his authority as president to support his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Session 6: Criminal Justice and Injustice
1130AM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Joe Fisher
Chandler Nutall- “ A Second Bite of the Apple: Evaluating the Effects of Postsecondary Correctional Education and the Challenges of Implementation”
Professor Wade Fletcher
Postsecondary correctional education (PSCE) is rarely found in United States correctional facilities because of several challenges to its implementation. A few of these challenges include lack of government funding, difficulty in establishing a shared objective, and difficulty creating a joint organizational structure. To deal with these challenges, this paper reports the positive effects of PSCE to prove that for the sake of inmates, these challenges need to be overcome. Findings reveal that PSCE programs have the ability to positively alter the attitudes and behaviors of its participants. PSCE students acquire skills and abilities that they may not have otherwise obtained. Lastly, PSCE reduces recidivism rates and results in many students wanting to live productive lives upon release. The challenges of its implementation can be overcome by using Nordic correctional facilities as a model. Specifically, these challenges can be overcome though fund apportionment between the correctional facility and the educational institution, regular meetings between educators and correctional staff, and an agreement that the educational institution is in charge regarding the correctional education programs. This paper ultimately emphasizes that because of the positive effects of PSCE, the challenges to its implementation need to be solved for the wellbeing of inmates.
Mariela Cabanillas- “No, Not All Colors Are Equal Before the Law”
Professor Bernardita Yunis
In recent years, the amount of mass incarceration, unfair sentencing, and lives lost due to police brutality in the United States has sparked a global outrage. Alarmingly, people of color are incarcerated and brutalized at higher rates compared to their white counterparts. This reality led me to ask- what is the root of this racism? How does this impact minorities currently involved in the criminal justice system and how will it affect minorities in the future? To respond, this paper argues that the criminal justice system treats people differently based on race and this is evident beginning with The War on Drugs and continuing with police brutality and sentencing. Throughout my research, I examine the history of these racist policies, the impact, and what can be done to help solve the racial disparity issue our criminal justice system faces.
Session 7: New Math, Old Problems
1130AM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Lowell Abrams
Andie Kemmerle- “Women in STEM”
Professor Marcos Martinez
My project was inspired by the discrimination I experienced personally in my high school computer science class. That experience inspired me to delve deeper into the issue on a macro level and analyze the inequality that women face in STEM fields. Women are vastly underrepresented in STEM fields, which I narrowed down to three main causes: social bias, educational setbacks, and institutional discrimination. I discuss how women and girls are perceived to be less capable and are thus treated as such in their schools, ingraining the message from a young age that they are not as capable. I touch on the intersectionality of the issue and how women of color face a much greater barrier to success because of the racism that they also experience. On the institutional level, I discuss how the wage gap continues to damage a woman’s career in STEM even after she has acquired a job. I focus on the progress that needs to be made in all of these sectors of society.
Fiona Walsh- “What Can We Learn from the New Math?”
Professor Lowell Abrams
This paper investigates the New Math movement of the 1960s and attempts to evaluate the success of various aspects of the movement. The paper approaches the movement as a government intervention aimed at changing the way students think through different methods of teaching mathematics. The investigation and analysis of curriculum topics such as set theory and modular arithmetic give the reader a view of what was new to elementary learners in the 1960s. The next section goes on to investigate what went wrong in the implementation of the curriculum. The paper draws on a variety of primary and secondary sources to build an argument towards the qualification that the New Math movement was a failure but had potential to be successful.
Session 8: Nature, Literature and Myth
1130AM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Rachel Pollack
Huiyan Li- “Shakespeare and medical science.”
Professor Rachel Pollack
The paper illustrates the relationship between Shakespeare and medical Science, mainly related to the book The herball, or, Generall historie of plantes. Beginning with a description of Shakespeare’s general research on medicine is clear to imply that The herball, or, Generall historie of plantes may influence his medical knowledge. The general description of the herball, or, Generall historie of plantes and the author John Gerard is also an important information I include in the background paragraph. I then connect The herball, or, Generall historie of plantes with 4 prevailing disease, scurvy, gout, rheumatism and venereal disease in Shakespeare’s age by providing cure reference in the book and describe other objects that may related to the diseases. Then I examine disease and cure reference in Shakespeare’s plays. Finally, I discuss the relationship between ‘the herbal’ and Shakespeare’s plays and the rest of the world: how the knowledge come from other countries influenced their works and how their works influence the modern society. This part mostly include the connection between Chinese herbs and therapy and Shakespeare’s plays and ‘the herbal’.
Nicholas Priest- “Forgotten Lore, Nevermore: The Raven in Native Myth and Western Science”
Professor Eric Botts
Ravens and crows are often associated with the macabre and sinister side of the natural world, but that has not always been the case. The reality is, ravens crows are hyper-intelligent. They have been observed using complex reasoning to solve problems and even exhibit both horizontal and vertical learning capabilities. Crows remember the faces of people who harass them and ravens play with wolves they hunt with. While many people do not have a deeper understanding of these corvids, they are often portrayed quite positively in lore and mythology around the world. Raven is a prominent character in the stories from the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast. In fact, much of our modern understanding of these birds echoes the same characteristics assigned to Raven. He is smart, cunning, and a trickster, often acting in his own self-interest. This short article takes us through stories of Raven in Haida and Tahltan lore and draws parallels between these stories and modern research, and finishes by raising some heavy questions about our human existence in the animal world.
Session 9: Acting, Cooking, Composing
1130AM (Ames B207)
Kaidudi Huang- “Music plays in plays”
Professor Rachel Pollack
This paper illustrates the role of music, especially romantic music, in Shakespeare’s world. The prosperity of music in the Renaissance affected Shakespeare’s oeuvre. By examining objects such as Queen Elizabeth Virginal in the Victoria and Albert Museum, women’s roles in court masques and various prints from the era, the paper shows the importance of music in Shakespeare’s world and the importance of musical elements in Shakespeare’s plays. First, the paper goes through the historical significance of music in the Renaissance and then illustrates the philosophical theories behind music and how Shakespeare shows these theories in Merchant of Venice. Second, the paper focuses on the power of music in his other plays, especially the effect of background music in his plays, the love songs in Hamlet and the music and dance elements in Romeo and Juliet. Third, the composers in the Renaissance like William Byrd and their relationship with Shakespeare and his work are another interesting point to explore in the music in that period. Last, the paper will show how Shakespeare’s plays inspired composers such as Tchaikovsky generation after generation to show Shakespeare’s contributions to music rather than just literature.
Maywadee Viriyapah- “Place Dinner on a Stage ”
Professor Christy Zink
Put Dinner on a Stage is about how the act of cooking can arguably be considered performance art. In the evolution of food, people have moved from perceiving food as a form of sustenance to a form of aesthetic art with the rise of social media. However, documentaries such as Chef’s Table have offered a new perspective on the culinary arts. Using a lense of performance art, Chef’s Table publicizes an idea that the act of cooking can be just as entertaining as traditional forms of performance such as dance. Put Dinner on a Stage is a in depth analysis on how this argument is not a radical idea, but rather a new movement taking over audiences everywhere.
Session 10: Inclusion, Diversity and Identity
1PM (Ames B101)
Hunter Barr- “The Importance of Racial Diversity and Representation in Higher Education”
Professor Leigha McReynolds
As the student body of American colleges and universities has steadily diversified over the last few decades, through affirmative action and other programs, there remains a lack of representation of minority groups in both faculty and student body in many institutions. I researched how racial diversity and representation affected both students and faculty members through an essay and accompanying video to support any claims made. My documentary video about GW will supplement the thorough research presented in this essay to support the claim that increased racial and ethnic diversity within higher education can positively impact both students and faculty. I discussed the racial representation and diversity, or lack thereof, in faculty members and students in higher education institutions as well as GW’s community because I believe that GW as an institution has not considered the harmful ramifications of disregarding the importance of diversity. The research looks into how the lack of racial diversity can vastly change the environment in which individuals learn and can have a serious negative effect on the quality of students’ education. Also, the skewed perception that universities provide about their student body further contributes to the false sense of diversity on campus.
Ruby Cheresnowsky- “The Rise of Self-Identity for Transracial Adoptees”
Professor Bernardita Yunis
This project is about relaying my personal perspective on what it means to grow up as a transracial adoptee. Most kids who are adopted into a family that does not look like them, hence transracial, means sometimes identity is defined for us without our opinions being considered; When truthfully the right to choose how we identify is justly ours, and only ours. This project discusses whiteness, community acceptance, self esteem and many other factors that have contributed to my identity. This project also sheds light on how transracial adoption affected my growth into how I choose to identify today.
Session 11: Feminism and Sex on 21st Century Screens
1PM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Ty Miranda
Addison Landsburg- “Teen Sex Comedies, Female Desire, and The To Do List ”
Professor Caroline Smith
I focus on female sexuality and desire in film, specifically looking at the 2013 film, The To Do List, directed by Maggie Carey. I expand on the pre-existing conversation surrounding the film and the way in which the film remakes society’s gendered ideas of sexuality by the re-imagination of the male teen sex comedy genre, à la American Pie or Superbad. Specifically, I use Deborah L. Tolman’s Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk about Sexuality, as a lens through which I analyze the film. Tolman emphasizes that young girls’ sexuality is denied and suppressed due to the institution of heterosexuality and calls for teenage girls to take control and ownership of their sexuality and feelings. The main female protagonist, Brandy Klark, answers this call. Brandy shows female sexuality in a way that flips the conceptions of desire. I argue that through the restructuring of the male gaze and the agency demonstrated in sex scenes, Brandy reflects sexual desire and agency through the reimagining of a typical genre, teen sex comedy, that typically has reinforced what Tolman calls the heterosexual institution. Carey thus gives the power back to the female and allows for the normalization of female desire to occur.
Maggie Mixon- “Art Imitates Life, Not Academic Theory: Flaws in the Academic Criticism of Girls”
Professor Wade Fletcher
Immediately following it’s 2012 HBO premiere, Lena Dunham’s Girls engendered a startling amount of buzz in the entertainment industry due to its groundbreakingly raw view of life as a millennial woman. However, this research delves into the scathing criticisms Dunham and the show have received from critics outside of Hollywood, academia. Charging that Girls' reputation as a feminist breakthrough is harmful as a result of the four female main characters’ often imperfectly feminist behavior, the academic critics deeply misconstrue the show’s tonal prioritization of accuracy and entirely disregard the concept of art imitating life. This research utilizes prominent methods, such as the Bechdel-Wallace test, from various social science fields in order to evaluate the show’s presentation of young women in the twenty first century and the broader implications for female led stories.
Session 12: Marriage in History and Culture
1PM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Marcos Martinez
Christopher Surridge- “Marriage, Is What Brings Us Together. OR, a Brief History of Marriage in Human Society”
Professor Marcos Martinez
Growing up in Kansas City during the mid-2000’s, a new form of social upheaval was in the heat of battle which, from 2004 to 2015, encompassed much of political and social debate which centered around same-sex marriage. Before this time much of the gay community had to fight for simple normalcy in society after the pervasive assaults and murders of homosexual persons throughout the United States and the negative stigma associated with HIV/AIDs patients (dispelled through public figures like Princess Diana and movies like Philadelphia), but the 2000’s brought a new fight to the table. My paper tries to tackle a lesser explored side of the debate, which introduces history as a factor to dispel of the repeated religiously-influenced dissent in the discourse. The papers and law-reviews I read from the late 1980’s and 1990’s which first tried to regard the legality of governmental proscribing and non-recognition of same-sex marriage discuss the history of marriage in background or abstracts, but focus the majority of attention on social conditioning and religious authority. But, considering the institution of marriage predates the formal Christian religion by almost two-thousand years and the banning of same sex-marriage is an historical anomaly, history is stauncher.
Kelsey Yarzab- “Unqualified Lesbians: Jenny's Wedding and The Pitfalls of Straight People Depicting Lesbian Relationships”
Professor Caroline Smith
Jenny's Wedding, a romantic comedy centered around a lesbian relationship, attempted to shake up the romantic comedy genre by deviating from the heterosexual norm. Unfortunately, this film was almost unanimously rejected by both critics and audiences. This essay seeks to analyze why Jenny's Wedding failed so decisively, and subsequently draws two key conclusions: first, the lack of representation in this film, both in front of and behind the camera, points to an insurmountable lack of understanding of lesbian relationships which ultimately results in its downfall. Secondly, Jenny's Wedding could not succeed in the romantic comedy genre because it fails to convince the audience that Jenny and Kitty's relationships is desirable, a key element in any romantic comedy. Consequently, the film reinforces harmful notions of lesbian relationships by depicting Jenny and Kitty's relationship as unnatural and unsatisfying. In its attempt to provide an alternative narrative to the overwhelmingly straight romantic comedy category, Jenny's Wedding is counterintuitive.
Session 13: Gilded Ghettos and Charter Schools
1PM (Ames B207)
Kira Burnham- “The Charter School Philosophy: Capitalism Over Care”
Professor Marcos Martinez
In the 1990s, charter schools were seen as the savior of the public education system- a way to revolutionize the way teachers educate and students learn through the removal of federal and state intervention. But what has emerged is a new type of education that is run like a business. The present-day charter school has a high teacher turnover rate, an unhealthy competition with the traditional public school, and covert methods of encouraging certain students to drop out, creating a capitalistic industry that seems to hurt the group charter schools are dedicated to help: students.
Xavier Adomatis - “Re-Segregate D.C. Schools: An analysis of gentrification’s peculiar consequences on Francis-Stevens”
Professor Phyllis Ryder
In the past five years, the traditionally black D.C. public school Francis-Stevens in northwest D.C. has moved to make itself more appealing to the gentrified neighborhood around it. They have been somewhat successful in drawing in the surrounding community, but many of the students from the area leave after the prekindergarten program and move on to private school. To look at the consequences of this invitation, including the loss of Title I funds, and creates the term transitory enrollment. This paper, in analyzing the causes of transitory enrollment, uses the frameworks of the gilded ghetto, gentry parents, and diversity without oppression by Hyra, Stillman, and Bell & Hartman. These concepts, in order, look at the current state of the nearby community and compare it to the school, study the interactions of parents with similar schools, and present the problems that the motivations of the parents create. The conclusion is that this diversity without oppression creates a gilded ghetto, or in this case a gilded black school, and the resulting transitory enrollment causes oppression within the school. Ultimately, the paper dictates that the school should be segregated by those committed to its success and those who aren’t.
Session 14: Being Woke at GW: From Watergate to the LGBTQ Movement
230PM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Dean Cissy Petty
Brandon M. Selvidio- “The 1990 Push to Add ‘Sexual Orientation’ to the Anti-Discrimination Policy of The George Washington University”
Professor Phillip Troutman
In this research essay, entitled “The 1990 Push to Add ‘Sexual Orientation’ to the Anti-Discrimination Policy of The George Washington University,” I ask the question of how GW administrators handled adding “sexual orientation” to the anti-discrimination policy. This further lead me to ask the questions of how the process undertaken to do so reflects an unwillingness to change by the University officials, and what the implications of the process were. While there is a significant gap in scholarly research in this particular area, GW, having an abundance of archival materials available for research (mainly administrative meeting minutes and student newspaper articles), serves as an excellent model to investigate this question. By detailing the drawn-out process that was taken in adding this phrase to the clause, and by breaking down the wording of the phrase that was ultimately added, I argue that the University administration was not keen on changing their stance on discrimination against homosexuals and that the message sent to GW community members was that this kind of discrimination was acceptable. I conclude by saying that it is critical for institutions to uncover these dark moments in their history so that they can learn from their mistakes.
Emma Billings- “Student Activism at The George Washington University: Changes and Continuities with the Passage of the 26th Amendment”
Professor Phillip Troutman
In this essay, the author discusses the political climate of the 1968 and 1972 elections and proceeding Watergate investigation, taking into account the passage of the 26th amendment in 1971 changing the voting age to 18. Through close analysis of the GWU school newspaper The Hatchet, she explores whether or not the 26th amendment affected methods of political mobilization on campus by looking at various publications from 1968 to 1974. Considering secondary scholarship from Nella Van Dyke, Richard Niemi and Michael Hanmer showing how political motivation can carry from one movement to another, and how exposure to campaigns increases voter turnout, the author concludes that there were both similarities and differences between the two elections. On one hand, the motivation from the 60’s carried through as students remained involved in politics, however with the voting age lowered to 18, students began informing themselves on specific candidate’s positions, and they shifted their protests from large scale general movements, to individual protests against people in power reflecting their new right to vote. The author concludes her research asserting that the 26th amendment did have an effect on student political mobilization, and questions what results will be seen in today's political climate with high school students – who lack the right to vote, advocating for stricter gun laws.
Session 15: Make America White Again: Propaganda and Ignorance in Trump's America
230PM (Ames B109)
Moderator: David Lemmons
Dana Krauss- “Presidential Persuasions: An Analysis of Trump’s Public Addresses and the Manipulation of Voter Morality in the 2016 Presidential Election”
Professor Michael Svoboda
First using the “Firehouse of Falsehood” Propaganda Model and Moral Foundations Theory, I analyzed Trump’s scripted speeches, post-election campaign rallies, and tweets to see how they conformed to the propaganda rubric as well as how they deviated. I found that as Trump’s verbiage became less and less scripted, it gravitated toward becoming increasingly propagandist in nature. Based on my knowledge of the Firehose Model and MFT, I anticipated that Trump’s speech style–– be it propagandist, persuasive, or something entirely different–– resonates more with the moral foundations of right-leaning voters than left-leaning voters. This was discussed on the basis of the specific identifying foundations assigned to liberals and conservatives respectively, as well as which foundations correlated strongest with the ideas outlined in the Firehose Model. The research concluded with a discussion on the power of social media and explored explanations for the shock caused by the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Lillian Bautista- “Ignorance is Bliss: The Purposeful Negligence of Policy within the White, Working Class”
Professor Bernardita Yunis
“Ignorance is Bliss” chiefly aimed to recognize the phenomenon of white, working class constituents voting against their own economic interests, observe how it developed, and analyze the impacts of its existence. In the 2016 election, rather than vote for Donald Trump based on his economic stances as commonly believed, it became apparent that white, working class GOP voters chose him for his sympathetic views on voters’ anxieties concerning increasing racial and cultural diversity in America. Through research on past voting patterns of the white, working class, I found that this phenomenon was not a singular occurrence but rather a trend throughout history. Subsequently, I found that the modern definition of “working class” was problematic and exclusive, thereby not fully encompassing the type of individuals who voted for Trump. But finally, I concluded that it was not their economic insecurities that drew the white, working class to the nationalist populism of Trump or leaders like him in the past, but their fear of displacement as the majority, which in 2016, manifested itself in terms of racial power. From understanding the underlying conflict, I hoped to shed light on how America could learn from its past and build a more aware future.
Session 16: Race, Identity, and Capitalism
230PM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Feraz Ashraf
Anjali Patel- “Black Entrepreneurship Under the Boundaries of Colorism”
Professor Robin Marcus
Colorism affects many communities of color. While I have mostly heard of how colorism plays out in the household such as mothers instructing their daughters to not spend too much time in the sun, I wanted to delve deeper into how colorism affects other aspects of one’s life. After attending several relevant on and off campus events for this course, I noticed how many speakers such as Angela Rye, and those from the GW Black Graduate Student Association were emphasizing the importance of economic empowerment within the black community. The research began looking into how colorism affects economic development in the black community in the U.S. Through the research process, the paper turned into something more discovery driven on how black individuals in the U.S. have economically broke or flourished under some of the boundaries inflicted on them due to colorism.
Gabby Borg- “Vineyard Vines: Patriotism through Pullovers ”
Professor Danika Myers
My project was an in-depth look at the company Vinyard Vines and how they attract their consumer base. I was interested in how Vinyard Vines portrays a fantasy life that their consumers believe is attainable by simply buying their products. Upon research into the WASP culture Vinyard Vines was portraying I learned why this culture has the reputation it has and why it does. Using advertisements and historical facts I tried to show how Vinyard Vines operates this idealist patriotic WASPy vibe into the present day.
Session 17: Defending and Protecting The Invisible Man
230PM (Ames B205)
Moderator: Shira Eller
Oya Houalla - “Navigating the Invisible ”
Professor Abby Wilkerson
Through our ethnographic research, we discovered how young adults with acquired ‘invisible’ disabilities are adapting to a new life in the university setting. We determined that division and disability stigma constitute the basis for a fragile dual transition. Our participants experience dichotomous and critical transitions from adolescence to adulthood while being submerged in new environments. Through the interviews of three participants, we determined that the misconstrued and generalized perception of disability mainly impacts the integration into the university environment and adds a concealed element of intersection to the construction of identity. Additionally, the analysis of socioeconomic factors reveals an oppressive treatment of low to middle class disabled individuals, who are perceived to be more incapacitated than their high class disabled counterparts. By losing, maintaining and developing new social roles, our participants face a complex adaptation to the college setting. Thus, we promote an ideal dual transition, which facilitates the acquisition of a coherent sense of self; this involves the development of genuine relationships.
Silvia Popoca- “Embracing Diversity in the Legal Field”
Professor Bernadita Yunis
Lawyers have a huge role in our society. They are the ones that stand up for you when your rights have been violated and ensure that you receive justice. Unfortunately, the legal industry does not reflect the diversity of people in the United States. Lawyers are supposed to protect all people regardless of people's race or gender, but they cannot do this if the legal field is not diverse. This has led me to question: What are the impacts of having diversity in the legal system how does diversity affect and why is there a lack of diversity in the legal field? To respond, this paper argues why lawyers and judges must mirror the diversity of the nation, with a focus on the importance of having Latinos in the legal field.
Session 18: Racial Bias in Hollywood: From Harry Potter to the Big Sick
230PM (Ames B207)
Isabel Rowader- “The Intersection Between Magic, Fan Art, and Political Activism”
Professor Professor Larsen
J.K. Rowling’s novel series Harry Potter has permeated every part of global culture, prompting the creation of a Rowling endorsed play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The character of Hermione, originally cast as white in film, was played by Noma Dumezweni, a woman of African descent. This casting resulted in backlash from fans, causing an increase in Tumblr artwork depicting Hermione as a woman of color as a rebuttal. This essay analyzes these works through the lens of racebending (Gilliland), fan casting white characters as characters of color. I expand on research arguing fan artwork expresses a desire for increased diversity combined with research on the importance of representation in media to find that the debate between Harry Potter fans about Hermione’s race, and the artwork produced in response can be explained by textual poaching and fan desire for diversity. (Jenkins, and Brooks and Hebért) In addition, I find racebending is utilized on Hermione as a way of promoting positive African-American representation and to show that issues of representation are vital to how African American women see themselves and increase the roles they can inhabit. These works can become forms of political activism, and further the cause of representation.
Soni Chaturvedi- “Is this really Representation?: An Analysis of The Big Sick”
Professor Caroline Smith
My paper discusses and brings up how the hit film, The Big Sick, although is a win for representation of the South Asian American community, falls short of doing so for women. Specifically, the movie portrays South-Asian American women as less desirable and more one-dimensional than the White women. My paper analyses scenes throughout the movie that support this argument. Ultimately, although the film challenges the notion that non-White male actors can be successful on screen, it is rather traditional in sticking to the prejudiced, bigoted, and biased conventions of Hollywood.
Session 19: Institutionalized Racism in America
410PM (Ames B101)
Myles Laurie- “The Secret Societies and Motives within the LAPD: A Neo-Slavery Narrative”
Professor Robin Marcus
After a long thought process on what I wanted to write my research paper on, I’ve decided to focus on the institutional racism of the Los Angeles Police Department that resulted in many injustices for African Americans during the late 20th century. The election of Daryl F. Gates as the chief of police in 1978 revolutionized the department into one commonly known for racial profiling and mistreating minorities. This was ingrained into the police department due to an undocumented change of training which came along at the same time Gates came into office. A lot of this was the result of the declaration of the “War on Drugs” by Ronald Reagan which led to an intolerance to drug users and dealers. Because of this, police officers began to target blacks more often as possible suspects of drug-related crimes. The prejudice of the police department of Los Angeles during the late 20th century was in turn a consequence of an executive order that would lead to many injustices to minorities. My curiosities have drawn me to learn more about the issue and see if secret societies are present in the police force using the LAPD as an example.
shalyn griffin- “The Black Experience at a Predominately White Institution”
Professor Robin Marcus
This paper aspires to uncover and discover the issues black students face at these Predominately White Institutions (PWI). One of the biggest issues found was failing to get solidarity from the administration. It seems as if they go above and beyond to recruit black students, but do not take care of us once we get here. They just benefit from being able to label as “diverse” there is no real appreciation or care for minorities on these campuses. There is a big push for minorities in top universities, yet, most of them feel under appreciated upon arrival. When will black students not have to constantly educate peers and even professors on blackness? When will black culture be respected and understood? There is an issue with the black student’s experience at PWI's. A student should never feel miserable in such an environment. Why must the black students have to just deal with it, why can’t the environment become one that is open and accepting to those who are not white? I have examined the literary work of a great deal of scholars, and what they have to say in the conversation of black students in predominantly white institutions.
Session 20: Me Too Villians and the Modern Bond Girls
410PM (Ames B109)
Audrey Marcum- “Behind the scenes: depictions of Harvey Weinstein on magazine covers”
Professor Michael Svoboda
The public’s perception and opinion on major happenings around the world greatly depend on media sources. A wide-reaching platform is the magazine industry, whose front covers are viewed in print or online. Viewers internalize the magazine producer’s perception of events, therefore allowing the magazine to control what the public sees. Many stories that are “newsworthy” often involve highly visible subjects and are negatively strewn, one of which includes the recent sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Using social semiotics, textual lenses, and multimodality rhetoric, this study analyzes how Weinstein is depicted in major U.S. magazine covers. Results show that Weinstein is portrayed in a demonic and dehumanizing light, while the #MeToo movement survivors are associated with angelic and strong characteristics. These results are then compared to the covers of Bill Cosby and Donald Trump concerning sexual assault allegations and affairs. Images of Weinstein include significantly more monstrous associations and rhetoric that do not question whether or not Weinstein committed the crime, while the Cosby and Trump images are more positive and questioning. This study seeks to provide insight into how celebrities involved in crime, specifically sexual assault, are depicted in magazine media coverage, and discusses whether it will bring about a permanent change.
Cecily Fasanella - “Spectres of Sexism: How Bond’s Past Womanizing Haunts the Latest Film”
Professor Caroline Smith
This essay examines Sam Mendes’ 2015 action film, Spectre. In this film James Bond (Daniel Craig) pursues the international criminal organization Spectre, lead by his adoptive brother, Ernst Blofeld. throughout his hunt, Bond is accompanied two women, better known as “Bond Girls” played by Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux. In this paper, I will argue that while elements of Lucia Sciarra and Dr. Madeleine Swann are more progressive than the average Bond Girl, compared to female characters in other films of this year, Spectre perpetuates toxic ideals about the purposes of its female characters, making the film far less progressive than it professes. For the terms of this essay, a progressive female character will be defined as one who exhibits agency and purpose regardless of the male character. To examine how Spectre is progressive in terms of the Bond series, I will use the documentary Bond Girls Are Forever, directed by John Watkin. Then, to examine Spectre’s lack of progression in terms of the industry, I will use the article “We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome”, by Tasha Robinson, Senior Editor of The Dissolve.
Session 21: Exotic Birds in Romanian Fable & The Dutch Golden Age
410PM (Ames B112)
Diana Alexandra Voicu- “Of Vultures and Men: Stories We Tell”
Professor Eric Botts
This paper is an exploration of identity, memory, and the power of narrative through the gripping story of Ilie, a bearded vulture bearing the name of a saint. Through oral history, poetry, and obscure manuscripts, we trace Ilie’s 18 year lifespan in Buzau, Romania, from 1924-1942, in a landscape of deep seated religiosity, class warfare, impending industrialization, chafing ethnic heterogeneity, constantly shifting borders, and fleeting strategic allegiances. What emerges from these sources is a layered portrait of a place, time, and people through the prism of the liminal creature they peacefully coexisted with, an animal that would be the last of its kind in the country. Ilie’s death at the hands of a Nazi soldier in 1942 prompted a collective outpouring of grief from the community, followed by a burial ceremony in the local Dumbrava cemetery. Ilie left a profound mark on Buzau’s collective psyche. In the limited literary tradition that survives, Ilie has been exalted as a local hero and turned into legend in its death. In stark contrast to the gruesome conflict ravaging the country during this period, the community’s relationship to this singular animal highlights the potential for tenderness even in humanity’s darkest hour.
Greta Browne- “In Luxury, Look Out: An Analysis of Gender, Race, and Extravagance in the Dutch Republic”
Professor Professor Pollack
This essay focuses on the Golden Age piece, "A Woman Feeding a Parrot, With a Page", completed by the infamous Caspar Netscher. Newly attained by the National Gallery of Art, this painting offers palpable insight into gender and racial issues in the Dutch Republic during the 17th century, due to its portrayal of a possible African slave and its depiction of a high society woman. These issues, still relevant today, will be exemplified through the dissection of "A Woman Feeding a Parrot, With a Page" and, the artist, Caspar Netscher.
Session 22: Our So-Called Inalienable Rights
410PM (Ames B117)
Bailey Morris- “Justice For All... Except Women ”
Professor Marcos Martínez
The Civil War in Syria, genocide in Myanmar, and the rise of the terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria… what do all of these conflicts have in common? According to the seventh United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, women and girls are disproportionately harmed by conflicts today. In much of the world, obstacles to the implementation of the United Nations’ Women, Peace and Security agenda and larger efforts to promote gender equality are rooted in legal barriers that limit equal economic, social, and political opportunities of women. This paper explores the impact of legal barriers to gender equality, of today and in recent history, that continue to serve as a blockade against efforts to promote the equal rights of women and their standing in societies throughout the world. Additionally, the responsibility of national governments to address these legal barriers within their own societies is discussed as a necessity for building a global solution to the issue of gender inequality that persists throughout the world today.
Samantha Garcia- “The Israeli Occupation and Its Impact on the Development of Palestinians”
Professor Professor Yunis
This project researches the impact that the Israeli occupation has on the development of Palestinians. The research focuses primarily on the psychological and sociological impacts. Through surveys, studies, and articles a conclusion was reached on the different types of ways the Israeli occupation has impacted the lives of Palestinians.
Session 23: How to be a Real Science Guy
410PM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Leigha McReynolds
Corinne Augusto- “The Dangers of CRISPR'd Food and Designer Babies (and Clickbait Headlines)”
Professor Leigha McReynolds
News about science bombards us daily. Morning talk shows tout the health benefits of eating chocolate, while Twitter is filled with links to articles and videos about the latest developments at NASA or SpaceX. How accurate is the news we receive about science? It depends. When written by a journalist and not a scientist, the importance and complexity of scientific findings can be misstated at best, or misleading at worst. My point of contention isn’t about the lack of coverage, but rather, the selectivity of which discoveries are covered and how those discoveries are explained. Specifically, non-science news coverage of genetic engineering advancements in environmental science is underwhelming, especially when compared to coverage about medical advancements in the same field. The tone struck with environmental advancements differs greatly from the tone taken with the medical advancements, creating unnecessary anxiety about environmental uses for CRISPR. Medical CRISPR is reported on more fairly, while environmental CRISPR remains highly sensationalistic. If this reporting negatively shapes public opinion about CRISPR, the tool will become one dimensional and limited, which is why accurate and non-“clickbait” reporting about this topic is so crucial.
Ethan Rooney- “Woodworking: The Construction of Mathematical Thinking”
Professor. Lowell Abrams
A case for shop class: Woodworking had been a staple of education curricula for centuries, but the advent of standardized testing and a new focus on preparing students for higher education has led to a narrow focus on more academic subjects. This shift has reduced student engagement, harmed students ability to think in 3 dimensions and, ultimately, reduced their capacity for mathematical thought.
Session 24: Neglected Narratives
410PM (Ames B205)
Moderator: Rich Pliskin
Joanna Chou- “Celebration and Mourning in the National Museum of the American Indian”
Professor Gordon Mantler
The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian is a holistic study in the intersection between celebration, mourning, education, becoming, and inspiration. As the first postmodern Smithsonian museum, it attempts to answer questions that will set a precedent for its successors. How does a museum funded by a government that exploits Native Americans transparently address its position in history and modern politics? Who is the museum for, and is there a message the museum should have for its visitors? How does a modern museum about Native American history balance narratives of catastrophe and commemoration? As the museum’s curators have struggled over the years to answer these questions, they have now constructed a museum that successfully balances these narratives and expertly educates the public about an often misconstrued side of American history. Through a study of the exhibits Nation to Nation (2014) and Americans (2018), it becomes obvious that the museum has grown in its approaches to teaching public history, and it continues to move forward with its mission with great momentum and care.
Marshall A Nakatani- “Neglecting the Fans: How Media Sensationalism Oversimplifies Fandom ”
Professor Katherine Larsen
For this paper I have analyzed YouTube videos created by fans reviewing The Last Jedi, as well as other fans comments on these videos. Fan content shows discussion about the movie over a wide range of topics, from the filmmaking, plot and story, to theme and character development. Yet, media coverage tends to spotlight on the hot topics and misconstrue fan interactions. Fans tend to prioritize different aspects in film than what media coverage reports. Analysis of media reports on the film and its critics illustrate this bias towards the outrageous and contentious. This paper is not meant to prove that difficult issues like gender and race politics do not occur in fandoms, rather point out how other conversations are often neglected within fandoms and require more attention and research.
Session 25: Fans Speak Back
410PM (Ames B207)
Moderator: David Lemmons
Danielle Gillerin- “Fan Reaction to Accusations of Sexual Assault against Aziz Ansari”
Professor Prof. Katherine Larsen
In this study, I examine fan reaction in the Parks and Recreation fan community to an accusation of sexual assault against Aziz Ansari, an actor in the show. I discuss the overwhelmingly negative fan reaction to Ansari’s accuser through analysis of societal and cultural factors such as sexual violence scripts, representation of consent, constructed hierarchies of sexual assault experiences, and victim blaming. This analysis demonstrates how powerful these societal factors are, as while Parks and Recreation is often characterized as a show that supports feminist values like female empowerment and affirmative consent models and encourages its fan base to support feminist ideals as well, support for these values is not exemplified in the fan response to this sexual assault accusation implying that societal and cultural factors outside of the show had a larger impact on fan response. I conclude with suggestions for further research into other factors that may influence perceptions of sexual assault.
Kaitlyn (Kat) Kirkman - “Once More, with Feminist (?) Feeling: Reactions to Joss Whedon as the Patriarch of Female Representation in Buffy the Vampire Slayer”
Professor Katherine Larsen
This paper investigates fan responses to Joss Whedon’s role as the white, cisgender, and male executive producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a t.v. program acclaimed for female empowerment in the 1990s and early 2000s. Invoking Brabon and Genz’s examination of “feminism”’s elusiveness as a term, Owen’s conception of postfeminism in Buffy, and Lange’s study of male-authored females, “Once More, with Feminist (?) Feeling” analyzes fan reactions on Twitter and Buffy-Boards. These responses indicate that fans strongly critique the limited perspective of Whedon as a reliable writer of empowering female characters, along with his co-optation of feminism in a public image wrought with missteps. Broadly, these reactions illustrate that canon is not an isolated world merely receiving influence from an author; canon precipitates additional conversations about female representation and male authority in Buffy and beyond. Fans act as conduits to this valuable intersection of real life and fiction, giving social legitimacy to their fanned works as they examine sensitive issues like women’s rights.