University Writing & Research Conference Program Spring 2017

Mount Vernon Campus

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

Session 1: Accents and Dialects: Exploring Relationships between Language and Identity

         10:00am (B101)
         Moderator: Zach Elder, Interim Director, Eckles Library

Amy Zamy- “Black English and Its Implications on Black Identity”
  
Professor Marcus

I used research from the Black community's leading academics in Black vernacular speech, including Toni Morrison and James Baldwin, to construct a general knowledge about the subject first. The paper was a "discovery" paper, meaning that there was no thesis to prove but rather a question to search for while writing. I questioned whether the use, abuse, and the disdain regarding Black English had any effect, whatsoever, on Black group (from both within and without) and self-identity. Using evidence from linguists and sociologists, there was a tension between whether Black English should be honored as a cultural gift or disregarded as a lower form of English. Using both arguments, I synthesized a conclusion where I decided the Black English was to be reputed as a part of Black culture that shouldn't be shameful. Its stigma should be removed quickly before the ill effects that it has had so far on the Black community becomes so instilled that Black people can not be able to appreciate and honor the language that has been passed down to them.

Yasmin Rivera Merino- “Accents and Identity: Perception of Language and Identity Judgements”
   
Professor Yunis

There are two different kind of accents: regional and foreign. For the purpose of this research, I will only focus on NNES’s foreign accents. In the first section of this paper, I will define accents and identity to provide a general understanding of how these two concepts are linked to each other and why it is important to talk about it. In the second section, I will discuss and assess the negative social perceptions around NNES with foreign accents. In the third section I will address the impact these perceptions have on NNES. I finally conclude by providing a suggestive approach on how accents should be addressed both by the speaker and the listener, and by emphasizing the need to conduct further research on this topic.

 

Session 2: Questioning the Artistic Canon: Alternative Views on Dutch Paintings and Painters

     10:00am (B105)
     Moderator: Oliver Street, Executive Director, Enrollment Retention

Cameron Lakin- “Before You Say Rembrandt: Placing Gerrit van Honthorst Higher in the Canon of Dutch Art”
  
Professor Pollack

If you were to ask someone who the greatest artist of the Dutch Golden age was, you would probably receive one of two responses: Rembrandt van Rijn or Johannes Vermeer. This is understandable, as these artists have become almost the “brand names” of Dutch Art, with numerous exhibitions bearing their names. However, the fact that we focus so heavily on these two men is unfair to many of their contemporaries, as many artists in the Dutch Golden Age were equally, if not more successful than Rembrandt and Vermeer during their primes. After making his name in Italy through his works in the style of Caravaggio, Gerrit van Honthorst used this new reputation to acquire prominent patrons upon his return to the Netherlands, developing his own genre of portraiture that would make him arguably the most successful portraitist during the Dutch Golden Age. Despite his enormous success, Honthorst seems to have been largely left out of the artistic canon of the Dutch Golden Age, having very few exhibits comparted to Rembrandt or Vermeer. This essay intends to reevaluate a tremendously important and underrated artist, placing Honthorst in the spotlight that he deserves.

Ashley Cheng- “Rembrandt van Rijn’s A Girl with a Broom: Bristles of Morality”
  
Professor Pollack

Rembrandt van Rijn is revered for his sentimental and authentic capacity to touch the human soul and evoke many emotions in viewers. His historic works especially depicting mythological and biblical scenes are known for this. A Girl with a Broom, however, is an atypical genre scene that brings a new intimacy in Rembrandt’s personal life. These genre scenes share powerful and pertinent messages about human follies in familiar motifs and symbols. Even more so, this unidentified housemaid opens up the conversation about women’s roles and societal ideals during the Dutch Golden Age. The girl’s age, facial features, and even her use of an ordinary cleaning tool all come together to give a voice to the constraints the Dutch women lived with. In spite of the many scenes they are featured in, Dutch women are predominantly confined in a showcase of societal functions and traditions. The bulk of Dutch art analyses ironically come from male authors and art historians, adding to preconceived views of how the women are figures of sin and immorality. Through the enigma of the young girl, there is new depth and personality added to the narrative of these eclipsed women.

 

Session 3: How Can We Solve Big Problems?: Approaches to Climate Change and World Hunger

         10:00am (B109)
         Moderator: Morgan Stoddard, Director of Research Services, The George Washington University Libraries

Ahmad Aljaberi- “Sound of Change”
  
Professor Riley

As the human population continues to increase, agricultural products become more and more depleted. Countries around the world have noticed this approaching epidemic and are trying to determine the best course of action to avoid this epidemic. UN organizations propose that the best solution is to reevaluate international trade to ensure that impoverished countries around the world have more access to food. Scientists propose that the impending crisis is a result of intermediate resources, necessary for agricultural production, becoming depleted. Their solution is therefore to modify how we produce food.

My research into the impending food shortage, expected to occur in 50 years, brought to my attention a recent scientific on the correlation between music and plant growth. An initial analysis provides assumptions that plant growth and fertilization increase when exposed to classical music. A more in depth study reveals that the genes of plants are affected when exposed to sound at certain frequencies and intensities.

The research I have conducted provides support for my thesis that the application of sound waves on agricultural production is the solution for solving the impending food crisis. I substantiate that this solution is more practical and profitable than other solutions proposed by officials.

Shelley Friedland- “Great Orator, Not Communicator: President Obama and Framing the Conversation on Climate Change to Promote Progress ”
  
Professor Jacoby

In my research project, I examine President Obama's use of framing techniques in his address about climate change at COP21, the November 2015 Paris climate conference. First, I introduce the concept of moral framing described by Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer, as well as the specific frames and emotional appeals advocated by Justin Rademaekers, Richard Johnson-Sheehan, and Sabine Roeser, respectively. I find that while Obama successfully incorporates many of the aforementioned suggestions, his rhetoric primarily stays in the liberal appeal framework described by Feinberg and Willer. Thus, I conclude that while this address showcased Obama's fantastic oration skills, his words lack the bipartisan appeal required by a topic as important as climate change.

 

Session 4: Approaching Disability through the Arts

         10:00am (B205)
         Moderator: Mary Buckley, Elizabeth J. Somers Women’s Leadership Program Director and Associate Professor of Dance

Ashley Gallagher- “The Signs of Exclusion: An analysis of the Biases Regarding the Deaf and Disabled in Theatre”
  
Professor Koenig

In my paper I analyze society’s discrimination against deaf and disabled actors in theatre, and briefly dissect the bias against disabled actors in television and film. I evaluate the impact of accessibility in theatre and explore the role accessible theatre has and should have in society. I also analyze sign language in culture as it applies to both hearing and Deaf communities. There is an unnecessary boundary between these communities that, through innovative theatre practices, can be breached. I believe that through theatre, all people can come together, handicapped or able-bodied, deaf, or hearing.

Linnea Alexander- “ The Application of Music Therapy in Treating Alzheimer’s: Research Methodology Uncovered”
  
Professor Riley

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the greatest medical mysteries of the century, and researchers strivehurry to find a cure whileas the huge baby boomer generation approaches late adulthood. This paper explores the types of research being conducted in the field of music therapy treatment and Alzheimer’s, highlights certain experimental strategies that are more successful than others, and recommends next steps into finding a music-based cure for the disease.

 

Session 5: Mixed Media: Fan-Based Adaptations

         11:30am (B101)
         Moderator: Joe Fisher, Assistant Director, Disability Support Services

Angela Baker - “DC Female Characters: Superheros or Super-Victims?”
  
Professor Larsen

In my paper, I discuss the effect that the female representation in the DC Universe has on both female and male fans. Through the major controversies DC has had in its female character depictions, such as the sexualized nature of the New 52 and the negative feedback for Barbara Gordon in Batman: The Killing Joke, male and female fans responses are studied. I use reaction posts and discussions from fan blogs, YouTube videos and comments and Tumblr posts, and other academic studies to analyze how DC’s representation of females impacts the way women feel about themselves and the way men feel about women. I conclude that the way DC represents female characters promotes negativity against women and creates a hostile rift between male and female fans. 

Caitlin Carfano- “Zombifying Haymitch: Promoting Parasocial Relationships and Trauma Awareness Through Character Transformation”
Professor Howell

This essay examines Haymitch’s character in The Hunger Games and the effects of transforming Haymitch into a zombie using the comic: Zombifying Haymitch. It will first explain how Haymitch’s characterization leaves gaps in the novel regarding Haymitch’s behavior. I will then argue how these gaps can be filled by transforming Haymitch into a zombie, which allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding for the implications underlying Haymitch’s unorthodox behavior. This is argued by taking into account ethical standards for fan adaptations and other scholarly research using the lens of both Jennifer McGee’s and Henry Jenkins’s essays. I will also discuss why this transformation in my remix matters concerning traumatic event sufferers and how it contributes to the conversation among The Hunger Games community. 

 

Session 6: Marketing America 

         11:30am (B105)
         Moderator: Colin Emrich, Ph.D. student, Political Science Department, Writing in the Disciplines Graduate Assistant

Alex Danley- “Forecasting the Next Economic Recession: a Longitudinal Analysis of the Role of Irrational Exuberance and Investor Confidence in Global Market Failures”
   Professor Koenig

Market crises receive significant media coverage because of their ravaging effects; one crisis, no matter its cause, has the ability to capsize global economic balance. This paper examines the role of investor confidence and irrational exuberance in market crises from the Stock Market Crash of 1929 to the Subprime Housing Crisis of 2008. To properly analyze these crises the following set of financial variables are examined: the changing prices of Treasuries compared to high-yield bonds, expected return (ΔERAPE), actual return (Δr), intraday volatility (I), and trading volume (ΔV). Following a longitudinal analysis of market crises, this paper concludes with original predictions and analysis on a forthcoming Subprime Auto-Loan Crisis.

Dylan Tally - “Research Based Writing: More Than words, A Conversation ”
Professor Ryder

In response to the issue of homeless inside of the District of Columbia, a local soup kitchen, Miriam’s Kitchen, set a mission to ending chronic homelessness in their neighborhood. The focus of this piece is to evaluate the effectiveness of Miriam’s Kitchen’s practices by comparing them to the research presented on outreach and engagement related to homelessness by Sally Erickson and Jaimie Page at the 1998 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. Firsthand experiences from volunteers at Miriam’s Kitchen will be utilized to highlight procedures in comparison to the model created by Erickson & Page. The result of this comparison yielded suggested changes for Miriam’s Kitchen in regards to marketing, volunteer and service training, and relationship building with clients.

 

Session 7: Art and Emotion

         11:30am (B109)
         Moderator: Leila Kramer, Learning Specialist, Strategic Skills Services, Disability Support Services

Jarid Shields- “Humanity on and off the screen: the portrayal of human emotions in the film Tamako Love Story and Kyoto Animation's revolutionary approach to anime production.”
  
Professor Smith

In my paper I analyze the general techniques used in Japanese animation to portray human emotions and how those techniques are used in the film Tamako Love Story. I then discuss the the studio behind Tamako Love Story, Kyoto Animation, and how they have found a balance between producing art and making a profit. My paper discusses how the studio utilizes basic animation techniques and numerous external factors like treatment and education of staff, release schedules, and even merchandise sales to reach economic success.

Lydia Deaton- “Love Hurts: The Misperceptions of Love and Abuse in The Bluest Eye”
  
Professor Goward

The Bluest Eye follows the story of Pecola Breedlove as she transitions from a position of helath into a state of mental insanity. The ultimate break that causes her downfall - when Pecola is raped by her own father, Cholly - is severely affected by specific social factors, such as sexism and racism, prominent in American culture in the 1940s. In fact, these factors affect the relationship in such a way that the act of incestuous rape is interpreted and perceived differently by Cholly and Pecola. While Cholly believes it to be an act to reestablish dominance over his daughter and family, Pecola is led and forced to believe the action to be a symbol of love. Because Pecola has no other healthy outlet from which to experience true love, she is forced to believe that the abusive sexual act she receives from her father is the only love she deserves, ultimately leading to her descent into madness. However, if Pecola had been able to experience true affection from a source other than the abusive love she receives from her parents, she may have been able to recover from the physical, emotional, and psychological scars her father has forced upon her.

 

Session 8: Preserving Public Memory

         11:30am (B117)
         Moderator: Erin Speck, Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture and Design

Cortney Vaughan- “Recreating the Unimaginable: The Journey from Visitor to Victim at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum”
  
Professor Mantler

My research is centered on the boxcar exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.This was an opportunity to ask the public to think of artifacts, such as the boxcar, in more critical way. It was the goal of the curators, planners, designers, historians and survivors to reduce the distance between European Holocaust sites and an outpost of Holocaust memory in Washington DC. By importing artifacts such as the Polish boxcar that lies in the heart of the museum, an attempt is made to seal that gap. However, the “Deportations” exhibit cannot successfully depict the final journey of dehumanization while effectively educating the public about it. By allowing visitors to enter through the boxcar, the museum indirectly places them in the shoes of the victims, which not only disrespects the victims due to the sacredness of the boxcar, but is also unfair to the visitors as it induces extremely emotional and personal responses in a public, historical exhibit. The museum’s attempt to “Disney-fy” the traumatic experience on the boxcar is unjust and therefore, the boxcar doors should not be open for the public to pass through.

Siobhan Finnerty- “On the Lack of a National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.”
  
Professor Mantler

American public memory of World War I varies greatly from our memory of the other twentieth-century conflicts, mainly because most Americans do not view World War I as an American victory—or even as an “American” war. However, since this view does not and should not force the Great War out of America’s history books, why then is World War I not worthy of having a just memorial in our nation’s capital city?

In my paper, I examine America’s relationship with the first global conflict of the twentieth century and analyze how the upcoming centennial of the Armistice that ended World War I has affected America’s plans to memorialize this war. I discuss Pershing Park extensively within my paper because of its prominence in the current discussion for the centennial memorial. I assert that the current plans for a WWI memorial at Pershing Park do a disservice to the memory of the thousands of Americans who perished overseas. I take the liberty of proposing my own location for the memorial, in an opportunity to most accurately and respectfully memorialize both General Pershing (the man memorialized in Pershing Park) and the citizen-soldiers of that generation in their own separate memorials.

 

Session 9: Girl Power: Representing Female Empowerment

         11:30am (B207)
         Moderator: Marwa Moaz, M.A. student, Sociology Department, Writing in the Disciplines Graduate Assistant

Dasha Kanevsky- ““That’s My Girl”: The Allure of Pop Girl-Group Identification and Why Harmonizers are Better Because of It”
  
Professor Larsen

In this paper I examine the complexities of girl-group fan culture. Pop girl-groups have a unique role in the music industry and thus have produced a unique fan base. I focus on the current girl-group Fifth Harmony and their fandom, Harmonizers. Girl-groups are dedicated to female empowerment and being positive role models to the youth that follow them, while still falling subject to the woes of young adulthood under the spotlight. I argue that their choice to share this experience with the world has had tremendously positive effects on their fans’ lives. Through an analysis of Harmonizer comments on Tumblr, Wattpad, Twitter, and Instagram I have found that fans have taken Fifth Harmony’s message and applied it to their lives in order to mature and gain confidence alongside the girls in the group. Girl-group fandoms are places of mutual growth for today’s youth that may not feel they have representation elsewhere.

Madison Bentil - “The Effects of Beauty Standards on Black Women in America”
  
Professor Marcus

For my UW final essay I was curious to see how hegemonic European beauty standards have affected black women in the United States. I decided that the best way to do this would be to look back through history, examine how said beauty standards have changed, and how black women specifically have modified their physical appearance to appease to these standards and how they have rejected these standards.

 

Session 10: Beyond Tough Guys: Breaking Down Gender Binaries in TV and Film

         1:00pm (B101)
         Moderator: Joscelyn Leventhal, Online Education and Off-Campus Services Librarian

Amit Gerstein- “Fags, Butches, Pussies, and Queens: The Need for LGBT Stereotypes in Contemporary American Television”
  
Professor Hindin

More so than other media, television permeates American culture, having the unique opportunity to reach a large audience and, to a certain extent, shape public opinion. Since the LGBT community is typically underrepresented on television, depictions which do exist play particularly significant roles in forming people's perceptions of that community, especially of those with little exposure to the queer community. However, American television shows in the 21st century tend to reinforce binaries in sexuality and gender expression, specifically in promoting dichotomies of homosexuality/heterosexuality and masculine-acting/feminine-acting gay men and women through their queer characters. Yet, these binaries should not be eliminated from television, but rather embraced along with a variety of sexualities and queer identities among TV's LGBT characters. My paper compares television to ball culture, an underground LGBT subculture, in their abilities to provide accurate representation of the queer community and in the LGBT community's quest to find accurate representation of the queer community.

Sarah Sem- “Big Girls (and Boys) Do Cry: Deconstructing Gender Roles in "The Holiday"”
  
Professor Smith

This project examines the role of the "modern man" in contemporary romantic comedies, specifically "The Holiday," and how this sensitive hero wins the leading lady. It provides a contrast between the melodramatic man and the traditional playboy as they are represented in the various male characters in "The Holiday." It examines the impact of this shift in representation of men in romantic comedies on contemporary audiences, specifically through the use of social media. This project engages both traditional reviews of the film, as well as Twitter reactions. This paper also investigates how this seemingly progressive theme of a sensitive hero in film actually emphasizes the stereotypical theme of male dominance in romantic comedies.

 

Session 11: Telling Environment Stories: Using Instrumental Research to Generate Creative Projects

         1:00pm (B105)
         Moderator: Beth Johnston, Adjunct Professor, University Writing Program

Amanda Chen- “Looking Through the Glass”
  
Professor Johnston

My project includes a series of photos taken at the National Zoological Park. Smithsonian’s Zoo prides itself in maintaining its species in ethical conditions and also works to conserve endangered species ameliorate the biodiversity problem facing the Earth today. The photographs were inspired by my research done on the ineffectiveness of captive breeding in promoting biodiversity; thus, this project serves as a criticism of the zoos’ unsuccessful attempts at promoting biodiversity in a sustainable and plausible way. Many of my images consist of direct and close up shots of the animals in their seemingly natural habitat so the viewer can clearly see the human-like emotions on their faces. The goal of this photo-series was to allow viewers to empathize with these animals by personifying the animals in a way so that the viewers can see the pain in the animal’s eyes. The captions paired with each photo was taken directly from the zoo's website. This is meant highlight the irony between what the zoo states on their website and how different the animals' behavior seems when visiting them in real life. The photos directly protest captivity, and thus, inherently advocates for differing methods of species conservation.

Anna Gallicchio- “Delving Deeper into Local Foods”
  
Professor Johnston

Within my project, I worked to protest the current food system in the United States through analyzing the present focus by consumers and producers on local foods. Local foods are considered food products that travel less than 50 miles. In general, the local food movement does contribute to a healthier, more resilient food system because it helps establish community and fosters individual action. However, while eating local may have become popular and trendy, it is not a panacea for humanity’s food dilemmas. There is little positive research indicating that consumption of locally produced food reduces our current impact on the environment, and local foods are frequently less effective at specifically reducing emissions than they are made out to be. Any movement toward local foods should be cautious and with the understanding that the implications might not be what are anticipated. My project concludes that a middle ground does exist between these opposing sides that allows for both prudence and for local foods to continue as part of the solution. By finding the most eco-friendly option for each situation, we can move towards an environmentally conscious food system. Using a "Whiteboard Explainer Video" to convey this information and my findings, my project finally ends with a call to action and a description of how to create a more sustainable food system.

Liz Burkemper- “Poetry as Protest: Using Verse to Demonstrate Against Christendom’s  Destruction of the Environment and Promote Earth Care”
  
Professor Johnston

In order to protest Christian destruction of the environment and encourage a moral and theological transformation in the way the Earth is treated, I composed a series of three poems that constitutes my final project. The first poem, titled “Gaia and God,” contains two contrasting stanzas. The first details an absent-minded politician who continues to advance his power at the expense of the environment. I describe the politician handling his self-centered affairs as he flies home from Washington, then I display the destruction of the Earth below him in alternating indented verses. In the second stanza, however, I employ more lyrical language to describe life on Earth as it would be if the voice of God dictated how the environment is treated over the voices of politicians. The second poem in this series, titled “What are we killing,” also contains two stanzas, in which I protest consumer culture, dominion theology, and anthropocentrism as the bases for which Christians justify destruction of the environment. Unlike “Gaia and God,” this piece holds a dark tone throughout, ultimately comparing the utter destruction and death of the environment to the crucifixion of Christ. Finally, my third poem, titled “Seeds of the Divine,” provides a call to action for Christians not to allow environmental destruction to hamper their hope for the future of the environment, imploring Christians to adopt the resiliency and unconditional love that nature inherently possesses. Together, the poems in this series depict both the light and dark parts of Christian treatment of the environment. The project works to call on Christians to exchange belief in God’s mandate to relentlessly dominate the Earth for belief that God can be seen in every aspect of nature as creator of all, thus working to reverse the current ecological crisis.

 

Session 12: Do Vampires Take Selfies?

         1:00pm (B109)
         Moderator: Bernardita Yunis, Adjunct Professor, University Writing Program

Kyanna Spaulding - “The Vampire Diaries Shipping Discourse: Why We Love Dysfunctional Relationships”
  
Professor Larsen

Television and movies are critical influences in adolescent and young adults (Pasquire, 1996). Shows and movies like Twilight and Game of Thrones are receiving negative feedback for their portrayal of women, but other smaller shows, like The Vampire Diaries, have not received the same level of backlash. The Vampire Diaries is a popular long-running show that focuses on the relationships of Elena, Stefan, Damon, Caroline and Bonnie. Through Miller and Dutton definitions of abusive and unhealthy relationships, I will explain how the relationships in The Vampire Diaries are dysfunctional, and analyze why fans are still supportive and promote these relationships, specifically Stelena and Delena. Through fan testimonials and surveys, I will begin to explain why fans support the promotion of dysfunctional relationships and rape culture through the actions of the characters in the show.

Paula Alcantara - ““Selfie”- Esteem: The World Behind The Lens ”
  
Professor Yunis

You arrive to a new place, you find it beautiful and mechanically, almost by inertia, you raise your cellphone to take a selfie and post it on your social media. This act, which is so common today, was in the past the exception to the rule. Despite the ease with which selfies have allowed us to have greater connectivity with our friends and family these have also become a great threat to the consolidation of our own identities. Less and less we see representations of the “real me" in these photographs and more of the "who I wish I was”. Can the “selfie” trend endure despite one’s concern on how this one is received?

 

Session 13: Beauty and the (Racist) Beast: Perceptions of Color in Once Upon a Time and Society at Large

         1:00pm (B112)
         Moderator: Sandie Friedman, Director, First-Year Writing Program

Demetra Vernet- “Black Women Are Beautiful Too: Why Standards of Beauty Have Psychological Effects on Black Women and Society”
  
Professor Marcus

When the idea of black beauty is brought into discussion, it seems almost like a taboo. What our society does not realize is that black woman constantly assimilate to our nation’s and even our world’s beauty standards so that they can be seen as beautiful. One can argue that this is a form of racism in itself because black women have been internalizing the European standards of beauty their entire lives. When it comes to beauty, a black woman’s natural self is inferior while the European standards of beauty are superior. The real question is: What are the psychological effects that they suffer from because of this?

Oikigbeme Sylvia Oikeh- “Colors and Magic: Exploring how race and racism are handled in the Once Upon a Time fan community”
  
Professor Larsen

Fairytales are magical stories which grant its audience hopes of happy endings. Once Upon a Time employs these principles in its production, while adopting a modern approach to its fairytales. Nonetheless, its modernization encouraged prejudicial attitudes towards people of color, especially in the inadequate typecasting of people of color characters on the show. I argue that although Once Upon a Time renovates fairytales, the imbalanced ratio of white to colored characters, constructed a racist environment in the fandom. Working with the critical race theory (Gillborn, Delgado, Stefancic) I correlate Once Upon a Time’s undiversified terrain to media’s created stereotypes and constructs. Using fan threads and comments on TvLine and Tumblr, I address the underlying racist depictions of colored people based on the discursive theories of whiteness which draws attention to race in media. I suggest that by acknowledging race and thus racism as a byproduct of false social constructions, we can minimize racial discrimination in fandoms and ultimately, mass media.

 

Session 14: The Color Line: Understanding Racial Imbalances in Employment and Residence

         1:00pm (B201)
         Moderator: Lowell Abrams, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics

Matthew Sujita- “Understanding the Lack of an African American Population in the Rural Midwest and Exploring Causes”
  
Professor Marcus

The objective of this paper was to determine whether the stereotypes and personal experiences of the author: that the midwest has a dirth and underrepresentation of African Americans as compared to the national averages. If this was determined to be true the paper would seek to determine reasons why.

Census data was used to determine if this demographic gap exists. Older census data, personal accounts, and newspapers from the 19th and 20th century were then used to determine if this missing bloc ever existed in the first place. Lastly newspaper archives, hate crime databases, music, art, journals, older census data sets, and modern disparate impact investigations were used to explore reasons why there would not be a sizeably correct African American population in the rural Midwest.

The findings are that first, in the rural Midwest, African Americans are underrepresented. Second, the evidence points to numerous cases of laws and municipal policies with a disparate impact that would act as a mitigating factor in emigration. Third, evidence of numerous factors that would have lead to an increased emigration to urban areas like in the Great Migration.

Paul Miller- “(The) Race Gap in Computer Science”
  
Professor Marcus

My project goes beyond a research paper. It is about exploring the inequalities within our society, and more specifically, our school system and workforce. Through many different types of sources, I was able to slip through the cracks, which were just statistics of why the system is so unfair and why the race gap is so wide. I was able to see it, not read it, but see it. The music, the documentaries, the recorded discussions, the scholarly articles which expressed something more than numbers and percentages. A portion of this project was researching who was pointing fingers, which tells a larger story as a whole to inequality and injustice. Another part of my project was figuring out what actions are being taken to address this issue and what more can be done. The final piece of my project was my audience. I wrote directly to my best friend, who lives right down the hall. He is a newly elected member of his local Board of Education in his hometown. I wrote to him directly about what his impact could be on this issue and I strongly urged him to take this matter seriously.

 

Session 15: Black Images, Black Words: Shaping Black Identity Through Social Media and Black Vernacular

         1:00pm (B207)
         Moderator: Allison Sparks, Adjunct Professor, University Writing Program

Allegra Farrar- “#WeShallOvercome: An Examination of the Transcendence of Media Framing from the Civil Rights Movement to the Black Lives Matter Movement”
  
Professor Fletcher

The research project that I chose to do is an examination on the role social media has played, as of recently, involving issues of race seen through the Black Lives Matter Movement. I decided to shape this topic through the lens of both social media framing and new historicism. These lens' were useful in targeting the correlation between the Black Lives Matter Movement of today and the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950's to the early 1970's. By examining similar images from both movements, I was able to analyze how the effects done through the perpetuated images of the Civil RIghts Movement resemble that which is occurring in the Black Lives Matter Movement because of the consistent concept of social media framing. The connection of these two movements and the concept of media framing was articulated through the idea of new historicism.  Ultimately the visual connection between the two movements helps establish the conceptual connection, permitting a greater understanding of racial issues today.

James Neuner- “What Do WE Need to Do? / The Role of White People in Achieving Racial Equality”
  
Professor Marcus

My research sought to find an appropriate role for White Americans to play in the modern civil rights movement. To do so, I looked back on what had been done in the past. I also analyzed a few sources that examined the currently held sentiments, from various sides of the issue, and the perspective that people view the issue through. To take an honest look at the question, I included both black and white voices in my research, but primarily focused on the concern and understanding of African-Americans. While it is impossible to have a universally definitive answer to this question, my research into the issue could contribute a way of understanding the how and why behind past white involvement, in addition to potential ways to be supportive in an effective way in the years to come.

 

Session 16: Pop Culture Crossovers: Subverting Genre Boundaries

         2:30pm (B101)
         Moderator: Kathy Larsen, Assistant Teaching Professor, University Writing Program

Ellie Schwietering- “Internet Memes, Ironic Themes, and the Rise of the Weirdo Rapper: How Tyler the Creator and Lil B are Using Satire to Save Hip-Hop”
  
Professor Tomlinson

When rap first emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, it functioned as a vehicle for expressing the marginalized experience of poor, urban, African-American youth. Since its emergence, however, rap has crossed into the mainstream and its ability to function as an authentic social voice has been increasingly threatened by appropriation by the music industry. A once authentic expression of the black experience has become increasingly overshadowed by a commodified version of black identity precipitated on a narrow construction of hegemonic masculinity. The advent of the digital age, however, has given rise to a new generation of satiric rappers who use the internet to bypass commodification by corporate media. Despite claims that satirical rap threatens the legitimacy of “real” rap as an art form, the self-aware humor of satirical rap actually functions to protect rap’s ability to act as a social voice by providing artists with a mechanism to criticize problematic aspects—e.g. homophobia, misogyny, materialism, and glorification of violence—associated with the mass popularity and commercialization of rap as well as challenge the limited identity presented in gangsta rap. By providing a subversive challenge to the norms of gangsta rap, satirical rappers are reviving the authenticity and originality of mainstream rap.

Meredith Hessel- “Crossworld Puzzles: The Importance of Character Development in Crossovers ”
  
Professor Larsen

This essay examines character development in crossover fan fiction and fan art by specifically inspecting the crossover between the historical hip-hop musical Hamilton and the politically-charged comedy Parks and Recreation. I pull from social media sources such as Twitter, hashtags, Tumblr and Archive of Our Own to see how the community develops crossovers. I draw on Natalia Samutina’s examination of the importance of crossovers and characters through a survey of Russian Harry Potter fan fiction. I use Mark J.P. Wolf’s terms like fictional anthropology (presuppose understanding, interpretation and multiple experiments with human behavior in fictional form) and world building (alternate universes and crossover universes). Through inspecting the political crossover between Hamilton and Parks and Rec, I find that fans rely on the strongly developed characters as a coping mechanism for events like the 2016 Race to the Presidency. Authors connect with the characters. I conclude with the idea that characters rank highest in importance over setting, plot and text in universes because while environment and plot change, characters remain static and hold the integrity of their respective fandoms.

 

Session 17: Playing it Forward: Applied Research in Design Environments

         2:30pm (B105)
         Moderator: Mark Mullen, Associate Professor, University Writing Program

Elizabeth West- “Goodbye, Caroline.”
  
Professor Mullen

Anyone who is familiar with science fiction will be able to identify the common trope of the cold, murderous AI.  Often, this manifests in an emotionless character built upon pure reason, completely inhuman in everything but rational thought.  But, what if an AI was built upon the power-hungry, angry aspects of a cheerful secretary from the 60s?  This is the base for the character of GLaDOS in the Portal series.  The game I wrote details the journey of Caroline from a humble secretary for Cave Johnson, to the neurotoxin-loving AI we have come to love.  The game takes place in several time periods from the 1960s to the 2010s and chronicles an experience in Caroline’s life in each chosen period.  The player makes choices as to how Caroline responds to the growing desperation and dismissal of her boss.  However, given as this is a prequel, one major aspect of this game’s structure is based around the idea that the player, and therefore Caroline, has no choice in the events at all.  The end is sadly determined, but the game shows the descent into madness of one of gaming’s most influential villains.

Kendall Geisel- “The Best-Laid Schemes: Creeping Determinism in Of Mice and Men”
  
Professor Mullen

Using the causal-model theory that stems from the concept of Fischoff’s creeping determinism, I will analyze John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and why the characters accept fate as the reason for the outcome of the novella, particularly the nonfulfillment of their American Dreams. Although Nestler et al. argue that the belief in fate comes from the finding of underlying mechanisms, I want to argue that in the absence of causation, even those most enfranchised will blame destiny for why the negative outcome occurs. Through the many lens of differing scholars, I discuss the reasoning behind the characters’ action and inaction, as well as the irony of which ones assume creeping determinism and why they do.

 

Session 18: Witches and Wings: Cultural Imagery in the Time of Shakespeare

         2:30pm (B112)
         Moderator: Rachel Pollack, Adjunct Professor, University Writing Program

Samantha Paralikas- “ Nasty Women and Where to Find Them: A Socio-Political Analysis of Witchcraft  in the Time of Shakespeare and Today”
  
Professor Polllack

This essay evaluates a seemingly simple object—a 16th century cauldron— in the context of William Shakespeare’s play The Tragedy of Macbeth and an examination of the social and political influences of witchcraft during the time period. With the rising fear of witches along with the lasting ramifications of the witchcraft encyclopedia Malleus Maleficarum, 16th and 17th century England was plagued with countless witch-hunts, predominantly of women. The Tudors enacted several laws labeling the crimes of witchcraft, however, the consequences for such violations greatly increased under the reign of King James I, under who being a witch was consider punishably by death. Shakespeare and his contemporaries thus began to incorporate the very real belief of supernatural beings in their works; namely through Shakespeare’s use of the Weird Sisters in Macbeth. Cauldrons themselves were first connected to witchcraft during the this time as witches were pictured to use cauldrons to create potions, a superstition that has lasted to modern day. Thus, this essay analyses the connection between the Shakespearean view of witchcraft with that of today’s and the reasons behind the witch trials themselves.

Stephanie Allen- “The Haggard Nature of Shakespearean Relationships: Falconry in the Time of Shakespeare”
  
Professor Pollack

This essay analyzes the noble art of falconry by employing a Shakespearean lens to the metaphorical connotations of falconry within literature such as Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and The Taming of the Shrew. In these texts I evaluate and interpret various references to falconry, especially in the realm of courtship and marriage, and its divergent portrayal as both a dominating force and as romanticized chivalry within the social context of the sport. The presentation of a leather falconry glove belonging to James I of England enables this essay to delve into the historical context of the mid-16th to early 17th century of Elizabethan and Jacobean England. This essay chronicles both the skyward-spiraling popularity of falconry, which prompted the compilation of The Booke of Faulconrie or Havvking by George Turberville, and its stagnation in the closing decades of the 17th century, eliminating the demand for artwork such as Willem van Aelst’s Still Life with Dead Game. However, I argue that falconry retains some of its former acclaim in contemporary forms of entertainment such as comedy sketches in Saturday Night Live, novel My Side of the Mountain, prevalent English phrases and idioms derived from falconry, and as an ongoing 21st century pursuit.

 

Session 19: Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Latinx Electorate

         2:30pm (B201)
         Moderator: Zach Hindin, Adjunct Professor, University Writing Program

Aaron Galloway- “The 2016 Election: Devaluing Rhetoric and the Latino Voter”
  
Professor Ryder

Immigration was repeatedly referenced in the 2016 presidential election. President-elect Donald Trump’s negative, devaluing rhetoric is a part of the standard narrative of immigration, which is pushed by the media and political elites.  He devalued the Latino community and caused high-identifying Latinos to become more politically active, while causing low-identifying Latinos to dissociate themselves from the political process. As a response to the standard narrative, a counter narrative of Latino immigration served to demonstrate the positive effects of immigrants in the United States. Using data from sources such as the Pew Research Center and the U.S. Census Bureau, I develop a hypothesis for Latino participation, both by low and high-identifiers, in the 2016 election. I suggest that Trump’s rhetoric devalues the Latino community, and could have led voters to flock to the Democratic Party and develop highly pro-Latino views, but the results suggest that his rhetoric was not as big of a liability as expected. While Latinos failed to swing the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton, I suggest that the Latino voter will become increasingly powerful because of their clustered geographic location and projected large increases in population.

Amy Doring- “"The Sleeping Giant": Latinx Political Identity in the United States”
  
Professor Yunis

For many years, the media has portrayed the Latinx electorate as “a sleeping giant,” a group whose vote will one day completely sway the election to one side.  However, the Latinx vote is not a uniform group.  In fact, it is diverse in both voting patterns and political behavior.  The Latinx political identity is affected by factors such as differences in history of nationalities, religion and generations. Given the unexpected outcome of the recent election, it is important to reevaluate what we think we know about different electorates, including the Latinx one.  Not only was Latinx voter turnout lower than predicted, it was also less Democratic than expected. "

 

Session 20: Hear Our Voices: Women's Empowerment Through Art

         2:30pm (B205)
         Moderator: Heather Schell, Assistant Professor, University Writing Program

Phoebe Bride- “Arpilleras: The Artwork that Promoted Democracy and Promoted Women Empowerment in Chile”
  
Professor Kristensen

The purpose of this essay is to investigate the role that arpilleras, and the arpilleristas who created them, functioned as a means of promoting democracy and female empowerment. The questions that I strive to answer throughout this essay are how the arpilleristas used a stereotypically serene and non-political form of artwork to promote democracy and counteract a dictatorial regime and neoliberalism, and how the women used a historically degrading societal norm, known as marianismo, as a form of empowerment.

The definition of democracy used in this essay is one that is rather conceptual, as it speaks to the ideological elements of what a democracy should entail, rather than the specific laws and enactments that are associated with it. This essay also provides critical analysis of the societal constructs known as machismo and marianismo, and how the arpilleras used these stereotypically oppressive norms to empower themselves. The essay finally discusses neoliberalism and how the arpilleras have functioned as a type of warning to the populace of Chile of the dangers of the complete onset of neoliberalism.

Simone Hunter - Hobson- “Lauryn Hill: Black Women's Liberation Through Art”
  
Professor Goward

Through the stereotypical expectations of Hip Hop, black women's voices have often been abandoned in the world of Hip Hop. Particularly in the 90s, Lauryn Hill, a singer and rapper, released her album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" and brought the black female perspective to the forefront of the Hip Hop genre. Through reflecting on her own toxic relationship, Lauryn Hill gave voice to many black women, who have shared the same experience of oppression. Hill's well-renowned album signified that black women could seek self love and worth by no longer sacrificing for men, who do not respect them, and ultimately establishing their agency through speaking their truth. Therefore, Lauryn Hill's album was not simply a collection of songs but generated a new identity of empowerment for black women.

 

Session 21: Trump and Women: Analyzing Media Responses to the "Access Hollywood" Campaign Scandal

         4:10pm (B101)
         Moderator: Moses Schanfield, Professor of Forensic Science and Anthropology, Department of Forensic Science

Evelyn White- “Partisanship and the Influence on Reactions to Scandals: Analyzing Liberal and Conservative Reactions to the Hollywood Access Video”
  
Professor Svoboda

The author analyzed opinion pieces pertaining to the recent release of the Trump sexual assault video released by Hollywood Access with the stasis questions (Gross, 2004) and the Moral Foundations Method (Graham, Haidt & Nosek, 2009). These articles appeared on the major news websites of The Washington Post, The New York Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Time, and TownHall.com. The purpose of this research was to identify the different ways in which ideology shaped the author’s reaction to the video.  The findings showed that the conservative authors were more likely to dismiss the events, whereas liberal writters pressed the issue and thus questioned the electability of Trump as expected with confirmation bias. Another element of this research was a comparison within the viewpoints of the reactions between genders, in which the results showed that women reacted more negatively than their male counterparts. The gathered findings are very relevant even after the election as it offers a possible explanation for the outcome of the election. This can offer a tool in the future to predict the effects of similar scandals on other elected officials.

Henry Scriba- “Rhetorical Media and the Trump “Access Hollywood” Leak: A Study of Political Cartoons”
  
Professor Svoboda

In this project, we analyze 93 editorial cartoons drawn by a number of artists on both sides of the political spectrum using Medhurst and Desousa’s (1981) application of rhetorical principles to political cartoons, as well as a clustering method designed to highlight the primary goal of each cartoon. This was done in order to measure how liberal and conservative artists reacted to the leaked video of Trump’s lewd statements about women. The cartoons we analyzed were all drawn during the week of October 9th, 2016—the week after the Trump “Access Hollywood” video was released. Considering the rather polarizing nature of the video, we expected to find that conservative cartoonists would put forth a smaller proportion of cartoons pertaining to the event during the week of October 9th, and that liberal cartoonists would rely more so on different visual elements in their cartoons, such as facial exaggerations or disposition to denounce Trump’s actions (Desousa and Medhurst 1981). Cartoons in the sample were clustered into groups regarding their purpose, and comparisons were drawn using data previously collected via Medhurst and Desousa’s method (1981). This project serves to further integrate editorial cartoons into the world of rhetorical analysis by measuring differences in conservative and liberal reactions to scandalous political activity.

 

Session 22: Breaking Through Political Correctness: How can public figures provoke productive discussion on divisive issues?

         4:10pm (B109)
         Moderator: Catherine Woytowicz, Professional Lecturer, Elliott School for International Affairs

Maria Ellers- “Writing to the "Other Side": The Power of an Audience”
  
Professor Ryder

In my presentation, I reflect on my experience in writing about a very politically sensitive topic -- race relations in the United States and the potentially negative impacts of racial-conscious rhetoric used by politicians. I specifically reference and ultimately criticize the racial rhetoric used by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential Election. The presentation itself emphasises the power and importance of an audience and the issue of emotional dynamics when one finds oneself writing to an audience who may not be willing to hear, or may not be prepared to agree with a writer's proposal. I hope this presentation stresses the importance of discussion in relation to it's lesser partner, conversation, as discussion is the true key to effective bi-partisanship -- something  America needs much more, nowadays. 

Michael Hunschofsky- "The Failed Messenger: How Milo Yiannopoulos’ Plan to Confront the PC Culture Collapsed"   
  
Professor Tomlinson

Political correctness started as a way to protect students from discrimination and hate speech. The movement has since evolved to emotionally protect students from discourse that may offend them. While the beginnings of this movement had a noble goal, today’s political correctness is characterized by limiting speech and silencing the opposition. A new movement has developed that claims it fights back against a “restrictive” PC culture. Milo Yiannopoulos stands as a self-appointed leader of this new movement. Milo has embarked on his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” to speak out against policies that prevent discourse. Through his attempts to use of humor and satire, he challenges social norms. Milo’s work, both written and spoken, has led to outrage, protests, and even death threats. With all of this controversy, it is important to determine whether Milo’s humor can actually create conversations or will just anger people. While some of his statements can be considered satire, most of his remarks just spread hate and intolerance. Milo began with the important goal of fighting against political correctness. However, his combination of hateful language and self promotion has undermined the original goal. It is now important to see how Milo failed and what positive aspects, if any, can be recovered from his downfall.

 

Session 23: Challenging Racism in Education: Policies and Practices that Support Quality, Access, and Success for All

         4:10pm (B201)
         Moderator: Robin Marcus, Assistant Teaching Professor, University Writing Program

Gabriella Luna- “Ponte las Pilas and Make Us Proud: Challenging First Generation Latinx College Students’ Identities ”
  
Professor Yunis

In today’s day and age, people don’t think twice before deciding that they’re going to attend a higher-level institution upon high school graduation. However, there are still families in which no one has attended and completed a four-year college education. The children of these families that will be the first to complete a four-year college education are called “first-generation” college students. Through the years, the efforts to make education more readily available to all students despite financial and social background has revolutionized the college scene and the type of kids seen on college campuses nationwide. From factors that influence identity before arriving to college, to experiences when the student arrives in college, and finally a future analysis of the student, much comes into play regarding the result of a first-generation Latinx college student’s identity. From before, to in, and then after college, the student’s identity is molded and given the right resources, their end result is something to be happy with.

Rachel Yakobashvili- “Blacks and African Americans in the United States Education System”
  
Professor Marcus

In the United States, Black and African American individuals experience education drastically differently than other racial groups, and especially Whites. Largely due to the legacy of White supremacy and its effect on socio-economic statuses of people across the US, Black and African American communities across the nation suffer from insufficient schooling and under-prepared teachers.

It is without a doubt that School Boards have to begin acknowledging these disparities and aid in mending them through actions of true integration, which looks like restructuring and inclusion, more cultural compitency professional development for teachers and administrators, more parent involvement in their children's schools, students knowing and standing up for their own rights, and so on and so forth. Ultimately, more constructive assertiveness, as well as communication and cooperation, across the entire educational hierarchy is needed in ending the cycle of flawed education in low-income schools across the country. If this is not done, the systemic perpetuation of racist practices throughout the system will continue to undermine the success of people of color, and gaps in education will continue to do a harsh disservice to the growing Black and African American population in the United States.

 

Session 24: Progressive Ideology in the 21st Century: Questioning Icons and Institutions

         4:10pm (B205)
         Moderator: Shira Loev Eller, Art and Design Librarian

Aaron Nelson- “Sanctuary for a Softened Icon: The FDR Memorial and the death of a radical”
  
Professor Mantler

The national memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt is a striking departure from DC’s prior presidential memorials. A massive horizontal park constructed from red granite, it is a direct contrast to the gleaming marble and imposing vertical scale of the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. But how well does this innovative design perform? To answer this my paper examines the context of the FDR memorial’s construction, focusing on the Reagan Revolution and other scholars’ work on FDR’s changing role as a symbol for both liberals and conservatives. I argue that though the memorial was intended to enshrine New Dealer liberal values, it ended up reinforcing Reagan's portrayal of FDR due to the designer’s personal experience with FDR and his choice to build a narrative memorial. Though the memorial admirably recounts the man and the generation he led through depression and war, in the end I conclude that it obscures FDR’s political philosophy and faith in a large, dynamic government, and as a result fails to provide an icon of liberalism for our time.

Yue Deng- “Entanglement between Marriage and Gender Inequality”
  
Professor Sparks

This research explores the relations between marriage and gender inequality and how the institution of marriage virtually fails to empower women. The frame of this research is drawn from the book Justice, Gender, And The Family written by a feminist political philosopher, Susan Moller Okin. This research explains how marriage places women in a vulnerable position during anticipation of marriage, entry of marriage, and divorce. This research both consolidates and refutes Susan Okin’s argument by more recent social studies and reports. The core claim of this research is that currently marriages and families fail to uphold justice since they produce unequal distribution of self-growth opportunities and power between husbands and wives. In order to promote universal gender equality, the society must have gender equality taking place within the institution of marriage and family. Besides passing laws to ensure men and women have the same legal, social and economic rights, changing deep-rooted gender ideology is as equally crucial to achieve feminism.

 

Session 25: Complicating Feminism

         4:10pm (B207)
         Moderator: Robin Delaloye, Director of Communications and Outreach, GW Libraries and Academic Innovation

Merritt Samuel- “Diversifying Feminism Through an Analysis of Islamic Feminism”
  
Professor Sparks

The goal of this paper is to discuss how feminism can benefit from identifying diverse subsections of the movement. Specifically, this essay focuses on Islamic feminism and how it exemplifies the idea that feminism can vary as it pertains to each individual. The conception that Islamic feminism is an oxymoron is a consequence of Western translation and it is my goal to explain why Western feminists have interpreted the movement in such a way. My paper also focuses on how Islamic feminists in Western countries have been able to de-stigmatize the idea that Islamic feminism cannot thrive due to  “inherent oppression.”

Neha Kushwaha- “Misunderstanding Miscarriages”
  
Professor Sparks

My project is about the stigma surrounding the taboo topic of miscarriages and how society, and more specifically the feminist movement, neglects to shed light on this issue that effects so many women and families in the United States. I explore the reasons why women may feel pressured by feminism to be silent about their miscarriages and how feminists should be more encouraging of women and their partners that wish to share their experiences to come forward and speak about their struggles. Only through open communication will families feel less alone during such a difficult time and understand how common this issue is.