University Writing & Research Conference Program Fall 2020

Thu, 15 October, 2020 5:00pm

Fall 2020 Conference Schedule

Join us for this fall's virtual University Writing Program Writing and Research Conference! The fall conference will open with the presentation of the fifth annual Julian Clement Chase Prize for excellence in undergraduate research writing about Washington, D.C. 

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 component of the panel discussion.


All sessions will be online via Zoom:

Session 1, The Chase Prize Ceremony, has its own link:
The Chase Prize Ceremony

Sessions 2-7 will all be held at:

Join the Conference on Zoom


Check Out These Prizes Celebrating Undergraduate Writing at GW:



Session 1: The Julian Clement Chase Award

Thursday, October 15, 5pm

The Julian Clement Chase Award

You are invited to join us for the fifth presentation of the Julian Clement Chase Award for excellence in undergraduate research writing about Washington DC.


This year's awardee is Beatrice Mount,

who will present her capstone project in
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies,

"Imagining One D.C.: Using Feminist and Queer Theory as a Basis to Combat Gentrification."


Keynote speaker: Parisa Norouzi, Executive Director at Empower DC


The Julian Clement Chase Award is named in honor of Sgt. Julian Clement Chase, a native of Washington, DC, who graduated in 2008 from DC's Wilson High School. While serving with the United States Marine Corps, he was killed in action in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. He was set to matriculate as a freshman at GW in Spring 2013. He knew and relished his city. His family has established this prize in his honor to recognize others who explore DC with the intelligence and exuberance that he did.


Session 2: Thursday, October 15, 7pm

Toward an Anti-Racist Future: Mitigating Racial Disparities in Public School Curricula and Healthcare Systems

Moderator: Elizabeth Chacko, Associate Provost for Special Programs & the Mount Vernon Academic Experience, Professor of Geography & International Affairs


The Need for Racially Aware Instruction in the United States Education System

Reginald  Warren

Professor Quave

The way that race is taught, or not taught, in the United States’ public school system has negative long-term effects on minority students, contributes to constructing incorrect racial perceptions in white students, and reinforces negative and racially biased societal norms. The majority of schools in the United States promote the idea of “colorblindness”, or the concept that the best way to address race is to pretend that it doesn’t exist in the first place. This practice is both outdated and fundamentally incorrect. Pretending that race doesn’t exist allows society to pretend that the continuation of racist and biased institutions and norms doesn’t exist. Teachers must be taught the origins and truths of racial bias in society and of the construct of race itself so that they can effectively implement these changes in their curriculums. Putting race into social studies curriculums via flashpoint topics is not effective or inclusive, and is a cheap way to include race and pretend no more needs to be done. The topic of race needs to be broadly implemented throughout the curriculum as an overarching theme, and should extend far beyond the social studies classroom and into STEM based fields.


Analyzing the influence of Culturally Competent Health Care Interventions on Mortality Rates from Breast Cancer in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Women

Emma Rooney

Professor Barlow

While the islands of Hawai’i may be perceived as the dream tropical island escape, it is in fact a culturally-rich land that has experienced great turmoil and tribulation. The systematic assimilation and forced annexation of the former kingdom of Hawai’i has left a rift between the kānaka maoli, or Native Hawaiians, and the systems that have been put in place to oppress them. The remnants of colonization bleed into the future generations, as health disparities paired with economic challenges threaten the lives of the native population. Native Hawaiians make up an estimated 10 percent of the population of Hawai’i, but have the highest incidence and mortality rate of breast cancer (69.5 deaths per 100 thousand), which is nearly five times the rate of mortality due to breast cancer in white women in Hawai’i (15 deaths per 100 thousand) (HDOH). While there could be many explanations and factors for this large gap in mortality, a look into the access and availability of preventative treatments need to be analyzed.


Session 3: Thursday, October 15, 9pm

Population Control Across Species: Challenges in Meeting Ethical Concerns and Consequences

Moderator: James "Trey" Johnston III, Associate Director, Cisneros Hispanic Leadership Institute


Evaluation of IUD Insertion, One-Child Policy, and Chinese Women’s Sense of Agency

Zhangzhu Wan

Professor Barlow

Studies have been done by scholars in different fields to scrutinize the harm that the One-Child Policy has done to human rights and female bodily autonomy in China. However, few have discussed how different types of contraceptive methods have affected Chinese women’s reproductive health and their sense of agency in divergent ways. This project will discuss the One-Child Policy in China from the early 80s to the late 90s and the widely practiced IUD insertion at that time. The goal is to explicate this specific contraceptive method’s impact on Chinese women’s sense of agency from various facets: malpractice during insertion and removal, IUD’s high failure rate, and government-imposed mandatory insertions. It also examines why the One-Child Policy was put into place, how it was implemented, and how Chinese women’s reproductive decisions were impacted by the traditional Chinese family programme. Furthermore, to conclude, the project will study different articles and research outcomes to explicate the socio-cultural impact that the One-Child Policy has on Chinese women at a macro-level, such as the severely skewed sex-ratio in China.

Playing God or Playing With Fire:  The Current Ethics and Practices of De-Extinction

Charlotte Conant

Professor McReynolds

 For my final project, I focused on the topic of de-extinction and its social implications. To do so, I wrote a journal article for a fictional science magazine. In this article, the conversation was directed towards questions of ethics and realities of de-extinction. Humans have single-handedly caused the extinction of numerous species through selfish acts, therefore it may seem like it's their duty to bring these species back. However, the repercussions are not known of bringing these species back into the ecosystem. It may turn out to be another selfish act done to make humans feel better about themselves. It could serve to play into humans' god complex as opposed to fixing the ecological problem. On the other hand, saving animals on the brink of extinction may be a useful and meaningful way to use this new scientific advancement. Increasing biodiversity is largely important in the current climate as countless species have been lost due to deforestation, hunting, etc. Going in-depth into the various sides of de-extinction the conversation is analyzed from differing viewpoints. This is especially important as de-extinction is relatively new.


Session 4: Friday, October 16, 10am

Taking Center Stage, Dominating Center Court: Valuing Feminist Positionality in Fashion and Athletics

Moderator: Dawn deVillasana, Coordinator, Strategic Initiatives


Damsel In Her Dress: Shakespearean Heroines and Fashion

Isabella Sayegh

Professor Pollack

This essay examines how Shakespeare uses fashion to define the identity and experience of the heroines in his plays, and to examine how this changed throughout productions from Shakespeare’s time to the present day. Fashion has changed in many ways since the time of Shakespeare, from petticoats to miniskirts and smocks to t-shirts, and so the costumes related to his plays have varied as well. This allows for different interpretations of Shakespearean women. A number of objects and photos, varying from the 16th to the 20th of costumes, and real garments originating from Shakespeare’s time are analyzed in this essay. Fashion also plays a major role in the language of Shakespeare’s plays, connoting certain garments with people, like women, or even ideas, like weakness and fortitude. Fashion helps in defining and furthering motifs like strength, heroinism, and madness, as seen in plays like Othello, Hamlet, As You Like It, and King Lear. In these plays we see women dressed as men, men dressed as women, daughters turned to insanity, all done in carefully planned costuming. As a result, fashion plays a significant role in exploring the identities of female heroines, as well as showing how they both conform and rebel against the unexcited role of the “damsel in distress”, in Shakespeare’s works.


A Glimpse Of The Past In Women’s Sports

Melanie Cardenas

Professor Troutman


There isn’t much discussion about Women sports in GWU. Especially not about female sports in Mount Vernon Seminary which is known today as GWU’s second campus. The essay embarks on the past history of female students in Mount Vernon Seminary and tries to prove whether women’s sports were neglected and unsupported by MVS. The time period that is being focused on is the early 1900’s. Photographs, yearbooks, and past articles written during those time periods gave insight on how female sports weren’t supported in MVS despite the school being only females. For example, based off of the illustrations and athletic sections of the yearbooks from the 1920's and 30’s of Mount Vernon Seminary, most suggest that women were subjected to stereotypes and minimum support from not just their schools but from society. Apart from looking at MVS, it was important to highlight and compare other neighboring schools that were co-ed because it gave a greater perspective on whether gender disparity existed in college sports.


Session 5: Friday, October 16, 1pm

Stage Door Culture and Ghana's Leadership in Reforming Africa's Healthcare Systems: A Review of Research Methods and Techniques

Moderator: Dorinne Banks, Education Librarian


Waving Through a Window: The Relationship Between Broadway Fans and Actors

Isabella Verga

Professor Larsen

This article inspects different social media forums, such as Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and the thread “What is the deal with today’s Stagedoor culture?” to investigate how members of the Broadway fandom have resorted to gatekeeping on social media to influence the behavior of fans around actors. Previous research on parasocial relationships provides context for my analysis of Broadway fans and actors, and studies of parasocial behaviors on social media are used as comparison to parasocial behaviors in the Broadway fandom. Bozdag’s definition of gatekeeping is the basis for my inspection of the fans’ influence on the behavior of the fandom. Ultimately, I identify social media as a link between the psychological theory (parasocial relationships) and the communication theory (gatekeeping). However, I clarify that the tradition of the stagedoor distinguishes the parasocial relationships in the Broadway fandom because fans have the common opportunity to meet the actors they idolize.


 “Free at Last: An Introspective Guide into the Embedded Roots of Colonialism in the Current State of Healthcare in Ghana”

Evelyn  Boateng-Ade

Professor Barlow

The current state of healthcare in Africa, as a whole, is disastrous, and when compared to that of Western societies, it is even worse. The root of this inequality is attributed to multiple sources. Some speculate that this inequality is due to the state of Africa itself. The weak economy and corrupt leadership must have created these health issues in Africa. Others argue it is due to the lack of development of African society. Underfunded social services, a lack of infrastructure, and the depletion of human and material resources must play a role in the health disparities. These speculations mention the surface level of the inequality in Africa, but do not get at the root. All of these factors, and more, have in fact played a role in the lackluster healthcare system in Africa, and is negatively affecting the health of Africans. But they are not caused by Africans themselves, but rather the system of colonialism that is exploiting and depriving Africa.

This essay will examine the roots of colonialism embedded in the healthcare system in one country, Ghana, to model methods of change for the rest of the continent. Inequality is a radical force in society, and it can only be solved through radical means. This essay will provide radical solutions to jumpstart the healthcare system in Ghana, and Africa as a whole, to release the ties of colonialism from Africa that exacerbate inequality in the healthcare system.    


Session 6: Friday, October 16, 230pm

Flipping the Script or Perpetuating the Stereotype: How Artists and Fans Force Change in Their Communities

Moderator: Shira Eller, Art and Design Librarian


'Booksmart': The Suspension of Stereotypes in the Teen Film

Meg Lyons

Professor Smith

The satirical film, "Booksmart" (2019), directed by Olivia Wilde, challenges frequent stereotypes portrayed in teen films, and it highlights the complexity of teenage sexuality. The movie follows two over-achieving high school seniors on the night before their graduation as they attempt to pack four years of fun into one evening resulting in a night of chaos and adventure. Through complex character development and unexpected casting choices, "Booksmart" is able to display a more accurate representation of teenage life and emphasize the harmful impact of stereotyping. In this paper, I will be expanding upon the stereotypes in teen films and show how the film, "Booksmart", contradicts these influential and heteronormative stereotypes frequently depicted in coming-of-age cinema. Lastly, through character and scene analyzes, I will examine teenage sexuality in film and discuss "Booksmart"'s authentic portrayal of female and queer sexuality.


‘How the Ship Sinks’: The RWBY FNDM’s Polarizing Experience with Shipping Behavior

Ali Khalil

Professor Larsen

Fan culture has given rise to all sorts of interesting terminology, ideas, concepts, studies, and activities, but of none of which are quite as obscure as the fan activity of shipping. Shipping, or the romantic pairing of two or more fictional characters, has walked a fine line between being innocent fun and controversial debate. This paper explores theories behind why fans ship in the first place as well as what gains a ship approval or condemnation. By examining the Bumbleby and Fair Game ships within the popular web-series RWBY, I aim to illustrate my assertion that shipping is inherently tribalistic, and by using the lens of sociology and queer theory, this paper intends to find why the RWBY fandom in particular has had such an issue with shipping and what if anything can be done about it.


Esther and Mordecai: A Testament to the Influence and Power of Jews in Hendrick van Steenwijk's Art

Jocelyn Pollack

Professor Pollack

The Old Testament story of the Book of Esther appears countless times in artwork of the Dutch Golden Age. However, as one views the Flemish master Hendrick van Steenwijk the Younger's painting Esther and Mordecai, it becomes apparent that the artist portrays something undoubtedly unique. Unlike his contemporaries he does not portray Esther, the Jewish heroine, as a dire woman in supplication. Rather, Steenwijk chooses to portray her as a powerful agent of the narrative. This essay asserts that the artist, influenced by his own experiences and views of the Netherlandish Jewish community, uses his understanding to create a distinctive Esther.


Session 7: Friday, October 16, 410pm

Lift Every Voice: Modernizing Fixed Climate Change and LGB Perspectives Through Rhetorical Adaptation

Moderator: Lowell Abrams, Associate Professor, University Writing Program and Mathematics Department


Misinformation in Christianity:  Strategic Communication Tools to Educate the Misinformed about the LGB Community

Rachel Russo

Professor Fletcher

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22 New Revised Standard Version). This Bible verse seems fairly straightforward, but many scholars have come to discover that Bible verses used against lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, so called clobber verses, are misinterpreted and misused against what is understood as modern homosexuality. Scientific research has proven that homosexuality cannot be changed, which has lead to the advocation for same-sex marriage in Christianity, but steadfast members of churches whom once applied the poorly translated clobber verses to same-sex attraction repurposed their discrimination to same-sex marriage.

With this persistent narrative in all sects of Christianity, it became necessary to examine not only how this narrative was constructed but how advocates can reframe and communicate a positive and affirming view of same-sex marriage. Recently, activists have utilized Communication for Development and Social Change Theory (CDSC) to advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. However, CDSC falls short of communicating a pro-LGB message effectively in Christian communities. Combining CDSC’s community tactics with interpersonal adaptation tools, will work best to disrupt current Christian views about the Bible and homosexuality. By utilizing these concepts to advocate for gay rights, not only would a greater percentage of the population come to embrace same-sex marriage, but more Christians would understand that marriage regardless of sexual orientation does not go against their beliefs.


The Youth's Power to Influence Climate Change Skeptics in their Household

Billie Singer

Professor Jacoby

This paper goes into depth on the study of Intergenerational Learning, a practice in which younger generations are able to educate their older family members on topics that they would not have been involved in otherwise. Specifically, the research delves into ways the youth is capable of influencing the older generation's perspective on climate change, and provides a new outlet of hope to continue to sway those who do not believe in the science of global warming. This paper shows that there is, in fact, a significant psychological influence between older and younger generations and that it is an effective measure to pursue this type of conversation.

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