University Writing & Research Conference Program Fall 2022

Thu, 13 October, 2022 8:30am - 9:30pm

Wednesday, October 12 - Saturday, October 15
Online on Zoom

The conference comprises 11 panels, with one session per time band. All panel 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 conducted via this Zoom link


Keynote Sessions

  • Julian Clement Chase Award, Thursday, October 13, 4:00 PM (Online and in person)
  • Eckles Prize For First Year Research Excellence, Saturday, October 15, 3:00 PM (Online and in person)
  • Kick-off Session: Where Are They Now? GW Alumni Career Panel, Wednesday, October 12, 7:00PM. GW graduates discuss their experiences with writing in the workplace.


  • Andrew Hor, Digital Marketing Manager at Sotheby’s NY
  • Danielle Tyson, Assistant Director, Museum Membership & Annual Giving, GWU’s Textile Museum
  • Moderator: Rachel Pollack, University Writing Program Instructor

KEYNOTE: Session 1, The Julian Clement Chase Award

  • Thursday, October 13, 4:00 PM
  • You are invited to join us for the seventh presentation of the Julian Clement Chase Award for excellence in undergraduate research writing about Washington DC.
  • When: Thursday, October 13st, 4-6 pm (Tours of the Washingtonia Collection available at 3:30pm)
  • Where: In person: GWU Museum - Textile Museum 701 21st Street NW, Washington DC 

The ceremony and reception are free and open to the public.

This year's award winner is Izy Carney, with her excellent Honor's History Thesis, "'Dirty Work' Pay: Environmental Racism and the 1970 Washington, D.C. Sanitation Strike." 

Honorable Mention goes to Wyatt Kirschner's History Senior Thesis, "“45 Hardcore, Ass Bustin’ Radicals” and Three Infiltrators: Students for a Democratic Society at George Washington University and the FBI’s Counterintelligence Efforts Against Them."

Keynote Speaker Tom Sherwood is a Resident Analyst for The Politics Hour with Kojo Nnamdi and a Contributing Writer for Washington City Paper.

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 13, 7 PM

Normalizing Queer Representation: From Text to Reality

  • Moderator: Ben Bronner, Teaching Assistant Professor, Strategic Management and Public Policy
  • Saying Gay: Analyzing the Moral Panic Surrounding Children and LGBTQ+ Identities
  • Anthony DeRosa
  • Professor: Ryder

In this project, I hope to gain greater insight on the current rhetoric surrounding the existence of LGBTQ+ identities in everyday spaces, such as a classroom. Using Stanley Cohen’s model of a moral panic, as outlined in his book “Folk Devils and Moral Panics”, I analyze the speeches and discourse surrounding Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, passed on March 28, 2022. Coined the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill by objectors, the bill intends to give power back to parents in how they want to educate their children, emphasizing parental awareness for all that children are learning in schools. However, objectors found the language of both the bill and its surrounding discourse to seemingly demonize, and arguably, eliminate the very existence of LGBTQ+ identities, which many, like myself, found to be a disservice to both our children and to the entire LGBTQ+ community. By aligning much of the bill’s speeches and discourse with Stanley Cohen’s model of a moral panic, I conclude that much of the hysteria around the presence of LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms does indeed follow the sensationalist patterns of moral panic.

Being Just Like You: Love, Simon and Homonormativity

  • Zander Narum
  • Professor: Smith

This project analyzes the progression of homosexuality in mainstream media and its result of counter progressive comedy and messaging that dismisses effeminacy and sets LGBTQ+ community as an outgroup through Greg Berlanti’s 2018 film, Love, Simon. Through Duggan’s argument of homonormativity, I argue that the film projects the ideas of heterosxeuality and heternormative gender roles onto gay people which puts homosexuality as a deviant in a harmful manner. Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is a typical teenage boy living in the suburbs, with a twist: he has not told anyone he is gay. Throughout the film and Simon’s coming-of-age moment, he proves to the world that he is ‘just like you’, gay or not, pushing a narrative that the typical ‘you’ is a straight person. By frequently subjecting the characters to heternomative standards, the film continues the heternormative assumptions and institutions. These portrayals of homosexuality pushes the idea of the outgroup, which I ultimately argue provides an atmosphere for violence against the outgroup to occur. In turn, this homonormativity has failed to produce progress and rather demobilizes gay culture allowing for the recent legislation, such as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to be proposed and passed.

Session 3: Thursday, October 13, 8:30 PM

Subverting the Queer Monolith

  • Moderator: Royce A. Francis, Associate Professor, Engineering Management and Systems Engineering
  • Breaking Into the Mainstream: Self-Censorship and Queer Visibility in Chinese Dangai Dramas
  • Nicole Wei
  • Professor: Fletcher

This paper examines production companies' practice of self-censorship in relation to the way it shapes queer visibility in Chinese mainstream media and evaluates the extent to which said visibility encourages social or legal reforms favorable to the LGBTQ community. To answer this two-pronged question, 18 Chinese dangai television dramas and web series that aired within the last decade (2012-2022) were selected for investigating the correlative relationship between level of self-censorship and ability to achieve mainstream popularity. This study compared the two aforementioned variables utilizing data gathered from three relevant media and Internet service platforms, government response to each dangai drama if and when applicable, as well as online opinion polls on public support for same-sex marriage laws conducted before and during the same time frame. The results postulated a positive correlation between dangai dramas' self-censorship and their likelihood of achieving mainstream popularity. Opinion poll data also suggested that even censored mainstream Chinese dramas (C-dramas) have a limited capacity to elevate queer visibility and advance LGBTQ rights in modem Chinese society. These findings set the stage for future research on the LGBTQ community's struggle for uncensored visibility and authentic representation in Chinese mainstream media.

Curly Haired, Attractive Criminal Profilers that Subvert LGBTQ+ Representation

  • Alexis Posel
  • Professor: Power-Santaella

Fluffy brown hair, a gruff personality, and the unnatural ability to solve crime with an otherworldly intelligence are all components of the criminal profiler trope. Most popular fan works in the crime genre are exclusively written by women and feature a depiction of a non-canonical gay relationship between the show’s front-runners. While the lack of adequate female representation drives female fans to find representation within male characters in the crime genre, doing so actively undermines LGBTQ+ representation. Popular fan works including gay relationships at face value seem as if a win for gay representation, however, these works oversexualize gay relationships for the purpose of appealing to female viewership. The misconstrued sexual relationship within gay relationships, especially in the crime genre, is driven by gender power dynamics.

Session 4: Friday, October 14, 10:00 AM

Art Forms at Play: The Impact of Medium on Culture and Identity

  • Moderator: Kelly Grogg, Research Services Librarian
  • Arts versus Crafts: How Once Respected Art Forms Have Lost Favour in the Public Eye
  • Ellie Lampione
  • Professor: Pollack

The paper aims to explore the relation between crafts as an artistic medium and gender in the Dutch seventeenth century and in the contemporary art world. In the seventeenth century, arts and crafts were valued as much as traditional paintings, although that is no longer the case. The paper examines how women are viewed in society and within the art community, and how that correlates with the monetary and social value of their art. Womens works, specifically unconventional mediums such as papercuttings and engravings, are displayed less in museums, underesearched, and will often be unattributed. The paper also discusses what is considered to be “high arts” and what is considered to be liesurely activity and whether or not that truly reflects the effort and skill put into these works. Educational opportunities for women have greatly increased and as women are now able to create works that are considered by some to be “on par” with that of men, their older crafts are being disregarded.


Identity: Pulling From Panels of Comics and Cloth

  • Sarah Jane Dayley
  • Professor: Myers

Fan-made media, interaction, and communities are a huge reason that shows, books, and other types of media are so enjoyable, and with the internet, the ability to participate in these communities has exploded. This participation and ability to feel included revolves around identity, something which can be seen in the ways that people choose to portray themselves as a favorite character. My paper is a research project proposal that investigates the intersection of cosplay and identity, specifically how individuals connect to their actual and performed identities while in the process of creating their cosplays. It looks at the concept of "authenticity", accessibility, and would use material culture studies as a way to really focus research on the experiences of individuals.

Session 5: Friday, October 14, 11:30 AM

Showing up for Each "Other": A Conversation on Cultural Diversity and Acceptance


  • Moderator: Alexander van der Horst, Associate Professor and Deputy Chair, Department of Physics.
  • Muslim American Mental Health: Trauma & Lack of Treatment
  • Abby Gobler
  • Professor: Abbas

Following 9/11 in America, public perception of the Muslim community has been malignantly negative. Fear-mongering mass media outlets utilize War on Terror rhetoric to stigmatize the Muslim community. Anti-muslim rhetoric, prejudice, and discrimination has increased without public oppostion, creating an inherently dismissive and dangerous enviroment for Muslim Americans, leading to, unprecedentedly high levels of anxiety, depression, and PTSD in the Muslism community. Muslim experiences of trauma and mental illness are often invalidated by their own community, ill-equipped healthcare providers, and the public at large. Muslims are subjected to trauma unlike any other marginalized community in America, and misalignment between Western mental health treatments and Islamic values leaves traumatized individuals without access to proper care.

Understanding the Experiences of Foreign Multi-lingual College Students in the American Higher Educational System

  • Samantha Ansah-Dico
  • Professor: Friedman

With the increasing population of immigrant multi-lingual degree-seeking students in the United States, it is important to understand their unique experiences in the American educational system. What are the difficulties that people who already know the language face as it was previously learned to a certain extent? How do their experiences compare to each other? There is limited information in this discourse community centered around the individual students’ experiences and evaluations, and I want to meaningfully contribute to the conversation, so that the information gathered here could be used to help. I interviewed two student participants who both have English as a second language as they studied it to a certain extent in their home countries, and I transcribed 15 minutes of each. Along with my framing text, I gathered data from similar studies and used those to put my observations into perspective. These all reveal that the interviewees encountered very many difficulties in adapting to both the written and spoken English in the United States, as well as being affected by the shift in social environments and others’ perceptions of them.

Session 6: Friday, October 14, 1:00 PM

Love is Love is Love: Examining the Landscapes

  • Moderator: Shelley B. Brundage, Professor and Chair, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences


Warm Bodies: Zombies and Romance, Can It Work?

  • Rosario Aguirre Mijares
  • Professor: Smith

Romantic comedies in recent years have started expanding their love interests, showing diversity not in race or class status, but in showcasing the supernatural. Jonathan Levine's Warm Bodies (2013) depicts a post-apocalyptic world that is narrated by R while he navigates life as a zombie. While on a feeding trip with other zombies, R encounters Julie and then kills her boyfriend. R saves Julie from being eaten and takes her to his airplane, where they start bonding and forming a relationship. This is a retelling of the classical story of Romeo and Juilet that adds a horror element and gives us a happy ending. Warm Bodies is a unique entry to the traditional romantic comedy genre as it is able to incorporate genre hybridity by combining elements of horror and romance in order to appeal to a wider audience. Because of Warm Bodies drawing inspiration from a lot of genres and popular media, it resulted in critics worrying about its inability to fit into all these different genres. This issue could also be interpreted as a positive attribute. In this research paper, I go into all the different genres of Warm Bodies and describe how each genre is done successfully in the movie.

Don't Say "Swirl": A Study of Stereotypical Racialized Ideations in Interracial Couples within Romance Novels

  • Aaliyah Guzman
  • Professor: Schell

Interracial romances have been on the rise within the United States, and as a result, more and more of the media produced aims to reflect this change. Relationships containing Black women and white men are a subset of interracial relationships that have taken leaps and bounds within media. However, it is pertinent to wonder if all representation is a good representation. Upon analyzing ten single-title romance novels, evidence suggests that white authors often rely on racist stereotypes of Black women when writing their Black heroines. The novels, five written by black authors and five written by white authors, were analyzed for the use of stereotypical language and images often associated with Black women in pertinent scenes within the novels. The reliance on stereotypes can hinder any attempt to diversify the romance genre because it alienates Black readers, who frequently can see through the racist characterization of the characters.

Session 7: Friday, October 14, 2:30 PM

Interrogating Science, Race, and Identity

  • Moderator: Alexa Alice Joubin, Professor of English, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, International Affairs, East Asian Language and Literature, and Theatre and Dance

The Afterlife of the American Eugenics Movement: Looking Back and Facing Now

  • Ashna Patel
  • Professor: Quave

The American eugenics movement reached its peak prevalence during the first half of the 20th century, and experienced its downfall after World War II. However, many of its fundamental ideas exist and persist even today. Many people in power today, including government officials such as Steven Miller, and scientists such as Francis Galton, have played a role in facilitating the American eugenics movement in the past and present. The roles that they have played in growing the movement have had significant outcomes in public policy, including the enactment of sterilization and restrictive marriage laws. Some still exist, thus furthering the eugenicist values that manifest themselves in American society today.

Panethnic Dynamics in Asian American Identities

  • Vidya Muthupillai
  • Professor: Power-Santaella

The existence of an Asian American identity in the United States requires negotiating a highly diverse set of ethnicities, socioeconomic standings, religions, and experiences with assimilation and immigration into one pan-Asian identity. This ongoing process of identity formation and adaptation contributes to the complex social and political interactions amongst Asian Americans and between Asian Americans and broader society, meriting an exploration of how a pan-Asian identity shapes Asian American electoral politics, social organization, and interethnic interactions in the United States. Regarding electoral politics, panethnicity amongst Asian Americans has implications for voting behavior, legal protections extended to minority voting blocs, and thereby political representation and responsiveness of elected officials. In social organization, panethnic dynamics help explain why Asian Americans organize themselves into ethnic, panethnic, or hybrid movements and organizations. Finally, in interethnic interactions, panethnicity can explain why internal hierarchical structures can complicate interactions amongst Asian American communities while interactions between Asian Americans and other communities can be overshadowed by a unified, but not necessarily accurate, pan-Asian narrative. Overall, the significant degree of infiltration of panethnic dynamics into the varying facets of how Asian Americans interact with each other and the broader society suggests a need for additional research to ensure that the complexities of a pan-Asian identity are not overlooked.

Session 8: Friday, October 14, 4:00 PM

Theorizing Blackness, Contextualizing Resistance, and Embracing Liberation

  • Moderator: Shira Eller, Art and Design Librarian

The Impact of Hair Texture Discrimination on African Americans

  • Stephen Pearson
  • Professor: Quave

This paper uses research from various journal articles and research statistics to further understand the impact of Hair Texture Discrimination on African-American people. Hair Texture Discrimination is a social injustice characterized by unfairly regulating and insulting people based on the appearance of their hair.

A thorough amount of first-hand quotes from victims of hair texture discrimination, coined ‘Hair Texturism’, are used throughout this essay. The research articles are used to show examples of the impact of historical proof of hair texturism on the societal views of African Americans and clearly link the pressures of societal views and norms to subsequent damage to self-image. As a result of the ascendancy hair texture discrimination has on systemic racism and injustice, African-Americans experience discrimination impacting their financial being in the case of workplace discrimination as a result of “distaste” of one's natural hair texture. The summation of the first-hand accounts and research articles concludes that hair texture discrimination is a legitimate injustice.

From the paper, it is clear to see the impact of hair texturism on African Americans. Historic systemic damage, mental impacts, and employment regulation all point to the reality that hair texture discrimination does indeed negatively impact African Americans. It is important to note that, currently, the Crown Act, a law that prohibits hair texture discrimination, has been introduced to the Senate. A federal illegalization of hair texture discrimination could potentially be a solution to this injustice.

Get Yo Money Black Man: "This is America" and the Cost of American Freedom

  • Sophie Maraghi
  • Professor: Tomlinson

America has sought to silence Black people for its entire existence. From laws forbidding Black literacy to racist hiring practices, the Black voice in America has long been silenced in institutional settings. In response, Black communities turned to the arts. In creating safe spaces for their voice - spaces that threaten the dominant society - Black artists turned specific genres of music into great tools of resistance. Henceforth, music/music videos have become a powerful genre of satire. Childish Gambino’s “This is America” is a harsh, raw criticism of the Black experience in America, specifically surrounding ideas of gun violence especially in schools and churches. Gambino employs the carnivalesque and the practice of signifyin’ to symbolize the contradictory nature of American ideals. Most scholars and the general public understand “This is America” to be a response to the gun violence epidemic in America, especially considering the timing of its release (just after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting). However, I contend that Childish Gambino is tackling the greater underlying issue: that American freedom is misunderstood as an absence of constraint, and that this concept of freedom cannot exist in a capitalist society. Through “This is America,” Gambino redefines American freedom.

Session 9: Friday, October 14, 5:10 PM


Contradicting Sexism and Uncovering Patriarchy

  • Moderator: Thomas Choate, Teaching Assistant Professor, Strategic Management and Public Policy
  • Tracking sexism: An analysis of the presence of the ambivalent sexism theory in Harlequin Presents from the formation of the theory in 1996 to 2016
  • Alys Barton
  • Professor: Schell

The ambivalent sexism theory was introduced by Glick and Fiske in 1996. This theory described sexism based on two forms, hostile and benevolent sexism - hostile sexism being when women are looked down upon for challenging men’s supposed dominance or gender roles and benevolent sexism being when men find it a necessity to protect the women in the relationship who are rewarded for being subordinate. Research was conducted to test whether the introduction of the ambivalent sexism theory and therefore the added recognition of sexism in the US had an impact on the presence of instances of sexism in Harlequin Presents romance novels. Ten books, five from 1996 and five from 2016, were coded on thirteen words that were analyzed based on the context they were used in and those instances were placed into three categories: hostile sexism, benevolent sexism, or defying sexist norms. The coding yielded a decrease in the number of instances from 1996 to 2016 in all categories. These results suggest that the increased focus on defining sexism by the theory and cultural shifts could have had an impact on decreasing the number of instances of sexism in Harlequin Presents romance novels.

Pearls of the Patriarchy: Symbolism, Iconography, and History of Vermeer’s Pearls

  • Lauren Schmidt
  • Professor: Pollack

The works of 17th century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer continuously display iconography of pearl jewelry, specifically earrings and necklaces. This paper explores the historical, cultural, and iconographical significance of Vermeer’s recurring pearl motifs. By building upon past scholarship, examining a variety of artworks from the Dutch Golden Age, and exploring the history of pearl jewelry in Renaissance and Baroque Europe, a clear picture of Dutch standards of womanhood and purity culture is painted. Pearls’ centrality in Vermeer’s pieces highlight women’s patriarchal role in Dutch society, but also the strength and grace they demonstrated in everyday life.

KEYNOTE, Session 10: Eckles Prize for First Year Research Excellence

  • Come celebrate the winners of the 2022 Eckles Prize for First Year Research Excellence!
  • When: Saturday, October 15th, 3pm-4pm (and a study hall for students from 4-6pm)
  • Where: Eckles Auditorium, Eckles Library, 2100 Foxhall Rd NW, Washington, DC 20007

Beginning at 3pm, the three prize winners will present their projects and then answer your questions about the process of conducting and writing up their research, as well as the process of applying for the Eckles Prize. Following the presentation, from 4-6pm, librarians and writing center tutors will host a study hall to help with your research and writing needs, big and small. Whether you’re working on next week’s homework, or your own future prize-winning assignment.

Join us in the Eckles Auditorium for cookies and inspiration; stay for study hall and be entered to win fabulous prizes!

Open to everyone.

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