University Writing & Research Conference Program Spring 2018

Fri, 2 March, 2018 10:00am

Spring 2018 Conference Schedule

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

Session 1S: Re-Reading Artifacts: Connecting Past and Present Struggles for Justice

10AM (Ames B101)
Moderator: David Lemmons, Manager, Eckles Library

Zach Hollander- “1968 and Beyond: How the NMAAHC Confronts Modern History”
Professor Gordon Mantler

I use the NMAAHC's exhibit 1968 and Beyond to analyze the museum's effort to display and discuss modern-day struggles for African American equality and justice. The exhibit stands as an example of the balance struck throughout the museum's array of African American history: a balance between incredible resiliency, progress, and contributions to American and world culture in the face of unfathomable injustice and continuous oppression and discrimination. This balance is starkly juxtaposed in the exhibit. On the one hand stands a box dedicated to the 44th President, Barack Obama, and the tremendous symbol of hope that his election signified to African American progress. Next to it are video clips and artifacts from Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations in response to the U.S's destructive mass incarceration and criminal justice system and police shootings of unarmed black men. How does the museum display those? Can a museum delve into modern-day debates that have directly evolved from the history the museum is exhibiting? I wanted to analyze what the exhibit does well and perhaps leaves out in the context of a politically and socially polarized nation, especially with regard to the perception of the Black Lives Matter movement and their goals of justice and equality.

Helena Doms- “Discrimination in George Washington University’s Greek Life in 1964”
Professor Phil Troutman

In this research on account of GW’s Greek life exclusivity in 1964, Helena Doms analyzes the inflection points in which Greek chapters were forced to eliminate any formal/informal exclusionary selection policies regarding race and religion. Utilizing Hatchet articles, Doms’s main claim discusses the turning points that catalyzed the movements led by students to enforce anti-discriminatory legislations in student organizations, as well as the reactions of other students, faculty, and national officers of Greek organizations. Stressing the origins of Greek life, Doms states “the realization and acceptance of [fraternal] roots are essential to further understand problems within the Greek system”, emphasizing the foundations of selective organizations carry through to this day, whether directly or indirectly. Piecing together a culmination of elements that led to the written, legal changes that occurred, Doms tells the story of GW’s own students taking initiative and reaching out to higher officials demanding for the elimination of discriminatory practices. Complimenting her research with Hatchet excerpts and prior scholarship, she questions the student-to-faculty relationships, and how this translated to the national levels of chapters. Doms concludes that with a series of student-led referendums, Greek life was able to facilitate positive changes, encouraging a more inclusive Greek system.

Session 2S: Moral Breakdown: Studies in Media, Literature, and Politics

10AM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Leila Kramer, Disability Support Services Learning Specialist

Alexander Hupp- “Humanizing evil: Danganronpa and the examination of morally ambiguous characters”
Professor Kathy Larsen

This paper studies the relationship between actions a morally ambiguous character in fiction may make and how the character is perceived by the audience. I examine the response fans have towards their favorite characters in the series Danganronpa with the theory of moral evaluation described by Dr. Mariska Kleemans in mind. I compare posts made on Danganronpa-related Tumblrs and /r/danganronpa with research done on fan attraction to characters in media such as Breaking Bad, American Psycho, etc. The most important discovery made is that fans judge characters on what I call a “moral scale:” if a fan can list more positive aspects than negative about a certain character, than the fan is more likely to enjoy said character greater, with little depending on how heinous the negative aspects are. Another important facet of this argument is that fans generally relate more to characters who are presented as “normal” or are seen to have real human behavior when they are first introduced. I conclude that by creating morally ambiguous protagonists, writers are able to create characters that are more memorable to fans and give greater credit to their work as a whole.

Libby Lukens- “Trump Causes Nation to Read More: The Rise of Dystopian Literature During 2016”
Professor Susan Koenig

During the year of Donald Trump’s campaign booksellers saw a spike in the sales of a very distinct genre; dystopian novels. Suddenly books that were previously only read in English courses were at the top of bestsellers lists. Angry US citizens began comparing Trump’s actions to those of the dictator Big Brother from 1984 by George Orwell. People began to reference as protest Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel in which women are brutally oppressed into becoming slaves for their male masters. The growing signs of politicians becoming only a source of entertainment resembles a world controlled by an obsession to television in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. But the reason behind why sales of these books has risen makes sense if you recognize the purpose of why they were written in the first place. Authors wrote to offer readers a warning based on where they feared our future was headed. Naturally, book sales then rose because of the similarities between Trump’s political actions and those of characters in dystopian fiction. Dystopian novels are guides written as advice to citizens on how to prevent political collapse, and these books will in turn provide Americans guidance through the next four years.

Session 3S: Evolving Understanding, Evolving Practice: The Challenge of Changing Human Minds

10AM (Ames B117)
Moderator: Katie Howell

Arjun Vijay- “An Algorithmic Approach to Social Networking: Using Big Data to Design a More Productive Society.”
Professor Marcos Martinez

This paper uses the practice of reality mining to evaluate the implications of big data in human interaction. It first uses the story of Amy Webb to introduce big data and the computational methodologies governing the field of data science. After establishing the relevance and ubiquity of big data, this paper then goes on to analyze the findings of two studies conducted by Alex Pentland in which he uses various data collection methods to find and fix deficiencies within workplace communication systems. After displaying the power of big data to enact positive change in social networks, this paper lastly evaluates the impact of this approach and how it can be extended into the broader scope of society.

Zoe Mark- “Florida's Fight to Evolve ”
Professor Heather Schell

This paper focuses on the ways NCSE can respond to the new bill HB 989. With this new law, Florida residents can challenge the teaching of a specific material in schools. This bill makes the issue of teaching evolution into a school district issue instead of a Department of Education issue. This paper proposes responses to this new bill to aid teachers and the school districts that are affected by this new law. The propositions are evaluated with their advantages and disadvantages laid out giving NCSE the best overview on how they can respond and work past this bill. 

Session 4S: Public Art: Encountering Cultural Memories

10AM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Erin Speck, Assistant Professor, Interior Architecture and Design

Gabrielle Hartman- “The Transformation of Liberalism as Depicted in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial”
Professor Gordon Mantler

This essay argues that the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial does not reflect the reality of FDR's presidency. Instead, I show that the memorial is a more accurate embodiment of Eleanor Roosevelt's ideology and influence. The difference between the President and the First Lady can be summarized in a comparison of 1930s liberalism and 1990s liberalism. The 1930s liberalism is characteristic of the time period that the memorial supposed to depict - FDR’s new deal policy, and its focus on economic liberalism. In contrast, Eleanor Roosevelt was ahead of her time, and embodied what would become known as a 1990s liberalism. This encompassed social aspects of liberalism such as race and gender inclusion. In many such social issues, it was Eleanor who pushed for more progressive measures than what her husband’s administration had intended or desired. Yet, in the Memorial, ER is only given a suboptimal statue that minimizes and mischaracterizes her influence on her husband’s presidency. Despite the emphasis of race and gender inclusion over class-based arguments in the time of the memorial’s unveiling, the architect’s treatment of ER as well as the public’s interactions with then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, revealed that in the 1990s, Americans were still uncomfortable with the concept of an “achieving,” activist First Lady.

Matthew Zachary- “Painted Shut: Gentrification through the Lens of Public Art”
Professor Robin Marcus

My project examines the relationship between the gentrification of predominantly minority neighborhoods by middle or upper-middle class Whites and the destruction of art in public spaces. Typically the art is made by local artists. Its annihilation often signifies the beginning of an exodus of the old residents. As neighborhoods gentrify, rents and taxes rise, making land unaffordable for lower income tenants and owners. As wealthier (usually White) owners buy up the land, they doctor the space around them to remove the culture of previous tenants.

The loss of public art signifies a loss of unique cultures. Each barrio has its own traditions, customs, etc., and one common way to commemorate and celebrate this way of life is with art shared with the community. Once this art is painted over, so too crumble the subcultures of America.

Session 5S: Moral & Meteorological Extremities: What Hurricanes Reveal about Our Politics

1130AM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Phyllis Ryder, Director, University Writing Center, Associate Professor, University Writing Program

Mariajose Pascual- “¡Ave Maria!: The Truth Behind the United States’ Response to the Puerto Rican Crisis”
Professor Bernardita Yunis

The research project “¡Ave Maria!: The Truth Behind the United States’ Response to the Puerto Rican Crisis” explores the response of the federal government to the devastated island after Hurricane Maria struck in September 20, 2017. The paper addresses how the response of the United States government was nothing more than racist. This is done by providing detailed evidence and argument of how Puerto Rican’s are indeed contingent and second-class citizens that are not given the equal treatment and benefits than other American citizens. Also, it explains how Puerto Rico’s territorial status and relationship with the US mainland influenced and affected the aid received after such drastic disaster. The author concludes by explaining how non-governmental figures where the true face of response and how this urges a process of decolonization for Puerto Ricans to have basic human rights and equality after such event and for its future.

Sydney Cohen- “Political storms: Liberal and conservative cartoonists’ portrayals of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria”
Professor Michael Svodoba

This study analyzed political cartoons created by liberal and conservative cartoonists on the three recent hurricanes that hit the U.S., Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, through Moral Foundations Theory and social semiotics. From the social semiotics standpoint, I found that liberals addressed a much broader audience in their critiques of the current administration. Additionally, I discovered their intent to portray climate change as an unquestionable, direct danger to the environment and society, through dark, menacing images. For conservatives, I stumbled upon a significant focus on the direct, interpersonal connection with the reader which focused on uniting the country and supporting victims (except Puerto Rican victims). From a MFT viewpoint, I uncovered that liberal cartoonists repeated emphasis on the unjust attention Puerto Ricans received after Hurricane Maria. Furthermore, from the MFT perspective, the conservative cartoonists tended to heavily focus on the loyalty value, which infers that Americans should unite to help each other (again, with Puerto Rico as an exception). In addition, countless images portrayed Trump’s vast authority over the drastic relief efforts amongst the country.  My findings coincided with the typical values and foundations which are employed by liberals and conservatives.

Session 6S: Wearing Gender and Sexuality: Clothes as Tools for (Im)Posing Identities

1130AM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Morgan Stoddard, Director of Research Services, The George Washington University Libraries

Brooke Claroni- “Mini Skirts and Low Cut Shirts:  An Analysis of Gender vs. Athletic Uniform”
Professor Wade Fletcher

This paper analyzes, through images, the societal impacts of gendered athletic uniforms throughout the years.   It discusses the practicality of mandated uniform, along with the frequent sexualization of female athletes and the resulting impact on female athlete’s self-image.  Sports like baseball, gymnastics, and golf have all seen problems with their respective uniforms, and while some sports have made progress over time, others have not.

Libby Dabrowski- “Queer Representation in Anime: Yuri on Ice as a ‘Revolutionary’ Depiction of Homosexuality in Mainstream Japanese Anime”
Professor Katherine Larsen

In this essay I examined fan reactions, concentrated on YouTube, to LGBT+ representation in Yuri on Ice within the larger context of mainstream representation in Japanese media. Japanese depictions of homosexuality have historically been problematic for queer readers, but Yuri on Ice depicts homosexuality in a positive way that has never been successfully accomplished in Japanese anime. Katherine Lehman argues that Glee engaged discussion of queer teens’ issues and I argue that Yuri on Ice also serves as a reference point for debate over larger issues, such as LGBT+ representation in popular media, and may be the catalyst for improved LGBT+ representation in Japanese anime.

Lillian Griffiths- “"What's your Number" Adding up to the Double Standards in Women's Sexuality”
Professor Caroline Smith

Mark Mylod’s film What’s Your Number? (2011) displays the double standards in women’s sexuality in society. This film is about the boundaries of shifting views on sexuality in the genre. Although the film is more progressive with the way women act in relationships it still brings to the forefront that women are supposed to have certain goals such as getting married and to act with prudence in order to do that. In this essay, I will examine the acts of slut shaming towards the protagonist Ally Darling shown in the film through magazine articles, female friends and Ally’s sister. I will also look at the negative affects the slut shaming has on Ally’s life as well as her relationships with men. Finally, I will compare Ally with the male protagonist Colin Shea to look at the difference between the cultural orders prescribed to the different sexes.

Session 7S: Living With/In/On Nature: The Great Outdoors in the Anthropocene

1130AM (Ames B117)
Moderator: Lindsay Jacoby, Instructor, University Writing Program

Nadira Saraswati- “Exploring Our Relationship with Animals and the Natural World”
Professor Eric Botts

The paper explores themes of our innate love of nature and animals built on a personal narrative of an intrapersonal development experience in coping with grief and finding comfort in the natural world. The research draws on observations of animal encounters, effects of nature on the mind and body, and scientific theories on the human-animal connection that dates back millions of years ago. The piece centers around our interactions with nature and how it affects us behind a growing urban landscape. It looks into how different cultures and living spaces, in this case urban D.C. and rural Indonesia, contribute to varying dynamics with the natural world. The author argues that one might picture nature as different or indifferent to themselves because they have lost their connection to it. Ultimately, humans are as much a part of nature as floras and faunas are.

Maura Welt - “Better for the Environment is Better for Business: Patagonia's Marketing Success”
Professor Danika Myers

This paper explores the different marketing strategies used by environmentally friendly outdoor apparel company, Patagonia.  Adhering to ethical and sustainable practices has become a growing concern in the fashion industry as consumers' have become more invested in corporate social responsibility and sustainability.  Patagonia successfully markets their supply chain, environmental efforts, and materials on an accessible online platform as well as the excellent functionality and quality of their products.  Consumers are therefore more inclined to purchase clothing from a company like Patagonia, because they can trust it. 

Session 8S: Virtual Virtues and Digital Diversity: Intersectionality in the Video Gaming

1130AM (Ames B205)
Moderator: Sandie Friedman, Deputy Director, University Writing Center, Assistant Professor, University Writing Program

Christian Robles- “Decoding the Latinx Gaming Community”
Professor Bernardita Yunis

It is no secret that the gaming industry is on the rise as franchises such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are growing in popularity. However, along with it, the industry is also seeing a surge in Latinx gamers with this group being more likely to identify with the label of “gamer” than their black and white counterparts, according to the Pew Research Center. This reality led me to ask - how is the video gaming community impacting the Latinx community and vice-versa? To respond, this paper argues that as it stands, video games are not doing enough to accurately portray, let alone provide commentary about issues facing the Latinx community. Nevertheless, there is huge, untapped potential for video games to empower Latinx gamers to talk about issues facing their community, but can only be reached by fundamentally changing two aspects of the industry. The solutions being for game designing companies to portray a more realistic view of the Latinx community and at the same time create the next generation of Latinx game designers. Through this research, I hope to set out a new model for the gaming industry to adopt so that it can produce meaningful and realistic commentary about Latinx community.

Rachel Rood- “Overwatch: A “New” Age for Heroes”
Professor Katherine Larsen

Abstract: The stereotyping of females in the Overwatch fandom prompts the discussion as to why females are treated so poorly in video game environments. Using the forums from, I examine attitudes within video game communities as a lens to prove that stereotyping female gamers as “support mains” is another way that fans try to reaffirm gender roles in society, mainly the roles that women should play. This article uses work by Salter and Blodgett, and Ogletree and Drake to explore the previous research of the masculine nature of video games and video game communities. I argue that the design and advertisements of video games has previously discouraged female involvement in video game fandoms. However, research shows that more women are becoming more actively involved in video game communities, but the changing demographics have been met with hostility from the once male-dominated video game community.

Session 9S: Trump and the Media Spectacle

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

Devon Link- “ Late Night with Donald Trump: Political Satire and Conservative Distrust”
Professor Niles Tomlinson

It is no secret that most political satire leans left. The satirical genre does not require objectivity, instead emphasizing bias for comedic purpose. This blatant partisanship leans left in most major political satires from The Daily Show to Saturday Night Live. Through my research project I will explore the reason behind this absence of successful, American, conservative satire and its relevance in the Trump era. I will specifically study the _ Hour News Hour, a political satire show that ran on Fox for only 6 months in 2007 before being canceled, to examine how this show used satire, why it was canceled, and how conservative satire is perceived by the public. I will then examine Donald Trump as a satirist, working within certain elements of the carnivalesque, while simultaneously rejecting others to manipulate his conservative audience's desire for right-wing satire into political power. This research will shed some light on this trend and its relation to conservative distrust of the media to answer the question: How has a lack of conservative satire empowered President Trump's "liberal media" rhetoric? This paper will examine how the carnivalesque has been manipulated by Donald Trump and ponder the possible repercussions.

Niels Graham- “McCarthyism in the Modern Era: How Donald Trump Utilizes a Society of Spectacle To Perpetuate his Presidency”
Professor Mark Mullen

Throughout the 2016 election Donald Trump posed as a problem the media had not encountered since the late Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. He was able to utilize a “Society of Spectacle” to repel any attempt to hold him accountable and to the truth. Through an exploration of how the media successfully challenged Senator McCarthy, I will postulate ways the media can do the same for President Trump. I will advocate for a fundamental shift in the way the news media reports on the President, from the way the formulate headlines about him to the way they discuss his often bombastic claims, such that he may be better held to what he says.

Session 10S: Race in America: Perception vs. Reality

1PM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Bernardita Yunis, Instructor, University Writing Program and Writing Center Faculty Mentor

Alexis Baro- “Immigration Perceptions and Realities in Trump's America”
Professor Bernardita Yunis

Immigration has long been a contested issue in the United States, and recent years have seen it become one at the forefront of American politics and society. As conversations around immigration policies have materialized, so too has the realization that a large segment of the American population harbors a resentment towards people from other countries— this notion was particularly exacerbated with the 2016 election and its rhetoric targeting Mexican immigrants, in spite of steadily decreasing immigration rates. With this evidenced decline, why was Trump able to utilize a fiercely negative stance against immigrants as one of the hallmarks of his campaign? This paper explores the divisive language Donald Trump has normalized, and examines its effects on people's’ perceptions, as well as the ways in which it played into some Americans' existing biases. I will explore the demographics of the people who adhered to this anti-immigrant rhetoric, why this issue was such a mobilizing force in 2016, and how these attitudes don’t match the the facts.

Lindsay Paulen- “Why are students learning so little about black history in American public schools?”
Professor Robin Marcus

For my UW final paper, I explored why public schools in America so poorly teach black history. After realizing I was the only one in my class that did not know who Emmett Till was, I began to investigate more deeply into public school curriculum requirements and even interviewed other students George Washington University to find the root of the problem. My paper explores the intersection of not only black history and public schools, but also explores how politics and geography affect the teaching of black history. This paper reveals shocking truths about how American public schools avoid teaching black history.

Session 11S: Intersections of the Human and Natural Worlds: How can we help?

1PM (Ames B117)
Moderator: Tina Plottel, Research & User Services Librarian

Amiya Jones- “Can Plants Really Hear?”
Professor Matthew Riley

Music has an effect on plant growth, but it is really the sound vibrations produced and not necessarily the musical composition. Essentially, music is sound. It’s composed of sound waves through a series of vibrations. These vibrations cause a disturbance in the atmosphere. The vibrations’ volume is determined by the frequency of the vibrating source. This source could be anything to a radio or a guitar because any musical instrument that emits sound generates vibrations. The pressure from sound wave will create vibration that will be picked up by plants. The plant does not hear the music, but they feel the vibrations of the sound waves. Plants exposed to music may thrive because they receive top-level care and special attention from their caretakers.

From all the research, experiments, and outcomes, it is fair to say that although music seems to be a positive influence on plant growth, it is still unclear. Even though this phenomenon is unclear, scientists still tend to do more research and experiments on this complex topic. It is proven that plants are affected by different sounds either in its natural environment or musical sounds caused by vibrations, but not music directly. It’s worthwhile to explore using music or natural sounds because it could possibly make clear understanding of the debatable topic- if music affects plant growth.  I believe that scientists should do more research to add legitimacy to this theory of music on plant growth because without scientific evidence, this theory couldn’t be scientifically true.

Session 12S: Ethnography of Mental Illness

1PM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Yolanda M. Fortenberry, Assistant Professor, University Honors Program, Department of Pharmacology and Physiology

Mo Mobley, Riley Doyle, and Shira Strongin- “More Than Senioritis”
Professor Abby Wilkerson

In this project, we strive to analyze the experiences of high school seniors with mental illness. We recognize that the already stressful experience of dealing with senior year is made more complicated when also struggling with mental illness, and we want to explain why that is. We also want to discuss methods students use to cope. We interviewed three participants in an ethnographic style. All three are current or very recent high school seniors with mental illness. We discovered that a general lack of motivation, internal and external stigma, and administrative complications were all factors contributing to a more difficult senior year. However, the respect, support, and understanding of friends and family, as well as escapism, helped our participants get through the year. By sharing the experiences of these students, we hope to increase understanding and legitimize the experiences of young people with mental illness, as well as start a conversation about what can be done to better support students with mental illness.

Session 13S: Race, Identity, and Discourse Communities

1PM (Ames B205)
Moderator: Fred Joutz, Co-Director of the Research Program on Forecasting and Professor of Economics  

Cagla Akcadag- “Marketing and Racism: P&G, Unilever, and Whitewashing in the Cosmetics Industry”
Professor Marcos Martinez

This paper delves into the discourse community of P&G and Unilever, and shines light on the problematic marketing strategies these two competing companies use. The takeaway point of this piece is that large-scale companies, like the two mentioned, need to leverage their industry power and take a better look at how their marketing strategies impact racism.

Ese Eboigbe- ““Not My Black: The NAACP’s Lack of Engagement with Africans””
Professor Marcos Martinez

Not My Black: The NAACP’s Lack of Engagement with Africans, focuses on the discrepancies between the African American community and the African immigrant community in the United States. The NAACP is the largest and most well-known discourse community for the advancement of colored people in the U.S. The organization has a large platform but it is rarely used to explicitly support the advancement of African immigrants. However, African immigrants should naturally be included in the conversation considering the common background and experiences. The research paper works to first prove the NAACP’s status as a discourse community. Next, it essentially points out the various places where said group is neglected by the discourse community. Thus, proving that there are indeed some disparities and there is an issue to be solved. The essay is a call to action rather than a critique. It pleads for the attention of the NAACP and like discourse communities, urging them to take a more united front considering the immense commonalities between both African Americans and African immigrants in the United States.

Melat Gebremariam- “The Ethiopian Diaspora in Washington, DC: A Discourse Community Ethnography”
Professor Marcos Martinez

The Ethiopian Diaspora in Washington, DC: A Discourse Community Ethnography explores how the large population of Ethiopians that live in and around the D.C. area can be seen as a discourse community in accordance with John Swales’ definition. This essay draws upon the history of the first Ethiopian settlers in D.C, the mass migration,  the attempt to establish a “Little Ethiopia”, and the tension that arises between the African-American and Ethiopian community. It also highlights the ways in which the Ethiopian diaspora organizes in order to support one another in various aspects of living in America, and in order to sustain the Ethiopian language and culture so it can be passed on to future generations.

Session 14S: Unattainable Perfection: Redefining Ability and Success

1PM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Leigha McReynolds, Instructor, University Writing Program

Eleanor Bock, Quinn Casey, and Sarah Cassway- “Skipping Class: Exploring Disabilities and Their Effects on Educational and Social Experiences”
Professor Abby Wilkerson

Our project focuses on the social and educational experiences of three college female freshmen who all have various disabilities. We conducted ethnographic interviews of the three participants in order to understand how their disabilities have impacted them in high school and in college. Each of the participants took time off of school due to their disability. Although each participant experiences disability in different ways, there were many overarching themes and common experiences between them. Our research illustrated that educational settings can put an ample amount of pressure on students with disabilities and that taking time off can have positive implications for their social and educational well being. Despite the overwhelming challenges faced by adolescents with disabilities in colleges, our participants and many students with disabilities still succeed academically and socially.

Victoria Schmit- “The Imperfection in Our Perception of Mathematics: Moving Beyond a ‘Math Brain’ Mindset”
Professor Marcos Martinez

One would be hard-pressed to find anything in life that did not, to some degree, relate to mathematics. It forms the cornerstone of the world as we know it. Yet the way we think of mathematics is quite separate from how vast the subject truly is. We think of mathematics as something that is inherently not useful and exceptionally dull, especially when we perceive that we are bad at it. We often say that we “don’t have a math brain” when we think that we are doing poorly in math-based classes. This pedantic representation of mathematics, as a form of pure logic separate from the humanities, is one that eliminates much of the beauty of mathematics and creates an inaccurate aura of difficulty surrounding the subject, which in turn reduces the number of women in mathematics-related fields.

Session 15S: Popping Trump’s Populism: How Should the Real News Cover a “Fake-News” President?

230PM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Phil Troutman, Assistant Professor, University Writing Program and Deputy Director of Writing in the Disciplines

Harry Levine- “Countering Populism; Media Coverage of Donald Trump and UKIP”
Professor Mark Mullen

Populism has been on the rise in recent years across the Western world. Because of this rise, there is a discussion among scholars regarding the role of the news media in helping populists gain power. In comparing the coverage of the Trump campaign by the American media and the rise of UKIP by the British media, it is seen that the American media’s actions did more to benefit the Trump campaign than the British media UKIP. This reality speaks to the need of the American media to modify its approach to covering Trump in order to better combat his populist movement.

Nicolette Santos- “Why Satire is an Effective Form of Climate Change Communication: An Analysis of HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
Professor Lindsay Jacoby

On June 1, President Trump decided to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement (PCA). In the days that followed, Trump was met with immediate backlash, his largest critic being from late night comedians such as Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, and Trevor Noah. While comedians rely on satire to demonstrate their disapproval with Trump’s actions, scholars have argued that satire is an unreliable and oftentimes an ineffective form of communication due to the fact that it can cause viewers to not take the situation seriously or get confused with the information that is being presented. I disagree with these ideas, believing that satire can be used as a very effective form of climate change communication, as seen in the “Paris Agreement” episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Using Matthew C. Nisbet’s framing theory, found in “Communicating Climate Change: Why Frames Matter for Public Engagement,” I believe that Oliver’s use of the morals/ethics, governance and public accountability frames effectively convey the seriousness of climate change and encourages individuals to take on a more active role in society.

Session 16S: Accounting for Taste, Double-Entry Style: (Re)Imagining Business and Marketing Practices

230PM (Ames B109)
Moderator: Abby Wilkerson, Associate Professor, University Writing Program

Serri Kayed - “An Unconventional Source of Exclusivity: How Supreme New York Changed the Concept of Purchasing Sought After Clothing”
Professor Danika Myers

My project takes an in depth look into a brand that completely shook the contemporary model of how clothing is bought and sold: Supreme New York. The brand shifted sought after clothing from being attributed to high fashion houses to more streetwear based companies, so my research delves into how they achieved this and how the landscape of modern fashion has changed as a result.

Thomas Regnante- ““Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend” -  The Bard and Financial debt in the Early Modern Era”
Professor Rachel Pollack

This essay analyzes the greater financial implications as well as historical significance of debt in the age of Shakespeare, starting with preconditions to 16th century English finance to Shakespeare - as described in The Merchant of Venice in which the Bard shares his knowledge of early modern finance and debt via direct references - in Elizabethan England. Utilizing a plethora of primary sources such as a Renaissance land indenture slip (1536) and the Promissory note of Robert Pilkington of Limestreet to Charles Rich of the New Exchange (1651), the dynamic and complex economic concepts of the early modern era (specifically loans, debt, and defaulting) are exemplified. After relating the aforementioned primary sources to the zeitgeist of Shakespeare’s time, a thematic history and dissection of the Elizabethan England financial precursors and one contemporary innovation follows in the analysis. The subsequent mathematical and ideological innovations - double entry accounting, the religious sin of usury, and venture capital and joint-stock companies - revolutionized how accountants and merchants conducted business and contributed to the financial practices of managing debt often used in the constantly changing early modern economy. Furthermore, the Elizabethan English populace’s general knowledge of these techniques and business practices regarding finance and debt management is demonstrated through the the book Household Accounts and Disbursement Books of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, 1558 - 1561, 1584 - 1586 edited by Simon Adams.

Session 17S: The Made-Up Woman: Cosmetics, Painting, and the Female Self

230PM (Ames B117)
Moderator: Kathy Larsen, Instructor, University Writing Program  

Hanie Jung- “Cosmetic Obsession and Self -Congruity on Social Media”
Professor Katherine Larsen

This article analyzed how mass media provides a different dimension to consumerism, including promotion of perfect images and constantly altering self-image for cosmetic fans, by observing the behaviors of cosmetic fans and their relationships with cosmetic brands and bloggers. Also, mass media creates a strong feeling of unification, self-congruity and validated self-identity to strengthen fan’s relationship about a certain brand or beauty blogger and even leads to a type of “obsession”. It draws on theories of self-congruity, particularly of ideal self-congruity and self-consistency (Sirgy, 1982; Kressmann et al., 2006; Huber et al., 2010) As the article is based on fandom of a consumer product, consumer statistics such as product stimulus, market increases, and even an increase in trending discussions about cosmetics are provided along with direct quotes from the fan community.

Jordan Villatuya- “ “O Clio, Lend Calliope thy Quill”: Calliope as the Ideal Dutch Woman in Johannes Vermeer’s The Love Letter”
Professor Rachel Pollack

In this paper, the female subject of Johannes Vermeer’s painting, The Love Letter, is contended to be more than just a high-class lady, she is the Roman muse of music, Calliope. He domesticates her, not uncommon when compared to Hendrick Goltzius’ engraving Calliope, in order to show the elegance and godliness that comes with being a Dutch woman in the 17th century Netherlands.

Session 18S: Fashion Genes and Gene Fashions: The Social Worlds of Genetic Engineering

230PM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Marcos L. Martínez, Instructor, University Writing Program

Sam Heimowitz- “Sensationalizing Genetics: How the Media Distorts Advancements in Genetic Science”
Professor Leigha McReynolds

With the proliferation of genetic editing technologies in society, the media have become increasingly fixated on advancements associated with genetic science.  However, because our attention spans have decreased to such minute levels, in order to grab our attention, the media sensationalizes headlines – relaying inaccuracies about the science and negatively influencing our outlook on the possible positive implications of using genetic technologies.  Focusing on six articles from various news publications concerning one event, the highly controversial CRISPR-Cas9 development in China in 2015, I argue that while the media does serve as a crucial intermediary for the public to digest the science, the discourse within the articles incorrectly and inaccurately portrays the information.  Additionally, the articles took the development in China out of context, alluding to “designer babies” and “directly altering what it means to be human” when in reality these concepts have little to do with what really happened.  CRISPR-Cas9 has the potential to fundamentally change the world in the near future, yet in portraying a development associated with the technology in a deleterious light, hope for societal acceptance of controversial new scientific advancements is greatly diminished. The media must represent the advancements more positively and accurately so the lay public can find acceptance for them.

Connor Judd- “The Biomedical Engineering Society: United in Progress”
Professor Marcos Martinez

This essay is an evaluation of the status of the Biomedical Engineering Society's status as a modern discourse community. It discusses the meaning of a discourse community as it was originally defined by the linguist John Swales, and applies it to the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). It continues to analyze the specific details of membership with the organization and its significance in society, with a focus on how a discourse community communicates with members and the public.

Session 19S: Wicka-pedias: Knowledgeable Women in Ignorant Confines

230PM (Ames B205)
Moderator: Eric Botts, Instructor, University Writing Program

Taylor Migliori- “"Double, Double Toil and Trouble”: Witchcraft in the Age of Shakespeare”
Professor Rachel Pollack

This essay analyzes primary literary sources from the Folger Shakespeare Library, such as James I's  Daemonologie,  Reginald Scot’s The Discovery of Witchcraft , and James Cotta’s The Trial of Witchcraft: Shewing the True and Right Method of the Discovery with a Confutation of Erroneous Ways. In her essay, Taylor explains how these sources and the North Berwick Trials shaped the contemporary view of witchcraft and those who consulted witches at the time Shakespeare wrote Macbeth. The witches in Shakespeare's play would have been perceived as a real threat who caused Macbeth's tragic downfall.

Karin Scott- “Fear of the "Woman Brain"? How the Print Media's Low Incorporation of Female Expert Sources Reflects Gender Disparity Within the Field”
Professor Mark Mullen

Although there has been much progress toward gender equality, persistent problems still exist within the news media. Journalists rely on male experts significantly more than female experts. Because the modern news media is prevalent, the effects of this practice are far-reaching as a failure to include more female experts sends a message to women and girls everywhere: women are not experts. This paper introduces the concrete environment socialization model which maintains that despite demographic changes within the news media (such as increasing the number of female editors or reporters), new staff will adhere to an environment set long before their entry. In order to correct gender disparate practices, a newsroom’s environment must be disrupted. To accomplish this, newsrooms must implement expert source databases that focus on women, assign journalists to more than one genre, and require more than two experts per story.

Session 20S: The Trans-Specific, Non-Nuclear Family: Revising and Expanding Our Model of Domesticity

230PM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Tracy Arwari, Director, Student Support and Family Engagement

Abby Voigt- “Canine Sidekicks: The Role of Dogs in Romantic Comedies”
Professor Caroline Smith

Our social connections are ones that encompass a wide variety of species. Human interactions with others involve relationships of all sorts- one of these being bonds between dogs and humans. This paper applies scholar Clifton Bryant's "zoological connection" theory, which proposes how animals influence not only individual’s lives, but are infused into everyday culture, and remain necessary for the equilibrium of a functioning society. There are various models of dog-human relationships that have been conveyed throughout several romantic comedies in which dogs contribute to their respective plots. Through an in depth analysis of the traditional romantic comedy "There’s Something About Mary," along with a brief analysis of films such as "Legally Blonde" and "You've Got Mail," the conclusion can be held that romantic comedies incorporate dogs not only to further their film’s plot, but also simultaneously reinforce and redefine specific male gender constructs and positions of power that exist in modern society.

Ilana Davis - “Boyhood: Challenging the Nuclear Family ”
Professor Wade Fletcher

My paper analyzed scenes from the 2014 film, Boyhood. Specifically, I examined the Evans family surrounding various kitchen tables along with their changing body language over the course of the twelve years that the film was shot.

Through these scenes, the film challenges the concept of a nuclear family that has ruled over society for decades. This representation in the film is, in turn, helping to change the narrative that an ideal family should not be represented in one systematic way, but rather as an embrace of societal and cultural differences.

Session 21S: When Cultural Borrowing Is Okay -- and Not Okay

410PM (Ames B101)
Moderator: Tolonda Henderson, Research and User Services Librarian

Jonathan Halbal- “"Keeping it Real: Narratives of Authenticity in Rap Music””
Professor Danika Myers

It may initially seem trivial to compare the markets for rap music and luxury goods. How are these seemingly disparate spheres connected? A complex relationship has developed between the two, as rappers don luxury goods in pursuit of clout, and luxury companies seek to employ rappers as brand ambassadors. Interestingly, narratives of authenticity underscore this unique relationship. This paper explores how the authenticity in rap and luxury goods are similar? How do they differ? And what material consequences do these similarities and differences create for certain groups?

Maryam Gilanshah- “It's A Goy!: Gentile Appropriation of Jewish Self-Deprecation in Modern Comedy”
Professor Niles Tomlinson

Modern comedy, whether it be sitcoms, stand-up acts, or Saturday Night Live monologues, cannot get enough of Jewish culture and, more specifically, Jewish self-deprecation. Stemming from the countless oppressors that Jewish people face, this self-deprecating tradition transformed the subjugation of the Jewish community into independence and buoyancy. In America, the practice become popular in 1950s and 1960s comedy clubs, where comedians like Lenny Bruce could share their culture and identity, ridiculing in a more inherently respectful manner, without alienating audiences. However, as the public became more comfortable with Jewish mockery, gentile comedians noted how much the mainstream enjoyed jokes about Judaism and used the material for themselves—gaining the same number of laughs, but inadvertently ridiculing, and again subjugating, the Jewish community. Now, Jewish comedians compete with their gentile counterparts over the same jokes, as audiences do not recognize the hidden oppression lying within this co-opted humor. In this essay, I will argue how, as consumers and audience members, we must support Jewish comedians and their true Jewish self-deprecation, even if it sometimes alienates us, over Jewish jokes from gentile comedians. I will also prove how non-Jewish comedians, like John Mulaney and Tina Fey, not only hurt the Jewish community with their off-handed generalizations and impressions, but also proliferate the oppression that Jewish self-deprecation attempted to fight in the first place.

Session 22S: Challenging Power Dynamics in Ancient and Modern Israel

410PM (Ames B104)
Moderator: Rachel Pollack, Instructor, University Writing Program

Caitlin Chan- “Bathsheba and King David as told by Jan Steen: Reclaiming a Timeless Narrative”
Professor Rachel Pollack

The subject of Jan Steen’s painting, Young Woman with a Letter (Bathsheba with King David’s Letter) is perhaps the greatest scandal in history; the famed Dutch genre painter has brought this ancient story to life at the moment when Bathsheba receives the ill-fated letter from King David summoning her to his chambers. This paper seeks to explain how Steen’s unusual depiction of Bathsheba as a woman resigned to fulfilling the immoral wishes of her king induces the viewer to consider not the perspective of her male keepers, but through the eyes of the victim. Through visual analysis of paintings by fellow Dutch Masters such as Rembrandt and Frans van Mieris, this paper will illuminate Steen’s divergence from typical illustrations of Bathsheba. Additionally, by examining the Bible’s description of Bathsheba and King David’s relations, this paper proves the nature of the situation as rape. Analysis of proverbs of both ancient Israel and the sixteenth-century Dutch Republic informs the way both societies considered rape—as a violation against the woman’s husband or father—lending Steen’s sole focus on Bathsheba greater significance. Finally, the work is explored through a political lens, as rape in art was commonly representative of Spanish violations of Dutch rights in the 1570s.

Ryan Mackler- “Division over Peace: The Effects of the Israeli Right Wing on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”
Professor Susan Koenig

The common theme between of major international events of the past few years can be defined as rising nationalism. The events that have helped define this theme are the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and the choice of the British people to leave the European Union. Poland, has been backsliding into nationalist illiberalism, as is the Czech Republic. For the first time since WWII, a far-right party is sitting in the German Parliament. Nationalistic parties made good showings in the Austrian, Dutch, and French elections. What’s more, this rising nationalism threatens to undermine international agreements including NAFTA and the Paris Climate Accord

While nationalism may only be returning to the forefront of Western politics, in the Middle East it has been active and effective for many years. Specifically, Jewish nationalism, led to the creation of the state of Israel. Since Israel’s inception, Zionism has always been present.  Israeli Zionists shun international cooperation and agreements, especially if deemed harmful to the national message. My argument is that the political element of Israeli nationalism has hampered the conclusion the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and harmed attempts to create a lasting peace between the Jews and Palestinians.

Session 23S: Theory, Climate Change, and the Coming Environmental Disaster

410PM (Ames B117)
Moderator: Peter Cohn, Director of Research Services, The George Washington University Libraries

Amy Iverson- “The Fallout: Life After Disaster”
Professor Eric Botts

My project was a narrative analysis of the ecological impacts the Chernobyl nuclear disaster had upon the local forest of Pripyat and how those effects can be extrapolated to understand what nature would look like after a nuclear world war.

Rachell Kim- “Twisted Discussion: Analyzing Liberal and Conservative Arguments on Climate Change and the Use of Climate Models”
Professor Michael Svoboda

A large body of climate research revolves around the use of computer modeling to report and predict potential future atmospheric changes of the Earth. When relaying their stances on climate change, journalists may oftentimes choose to cite these climate models in a variety of different arrangements along with diverse selections of supporting evidence. Using the moral foundations theory and stasis doctrine, I analyzed op-eds from liberal and conservative leaning news sites and the way in which they incorporated computer models to refute or support their positions climate change. I found that mentions of climate modeling further exacerbated tensions between liberals and conservatives on fundamental scientific truths, and also found that frequently used marginalizing terminology such as “deniers” served a role in preventing inclusive discussion and understanding on climate science. This study seeks to provide additional insight on the issue of climate skepticism and encourage additional methods to open discussion on climate change.

Leah C Cass- “Superpig Saves the Day: How Okja’s Diverse Use of Moral Framing Makes the Film a Catalyst for Social Change”
Professor Lindsay Jacoby

My essay explored how the film Okja was successful at convincing viewers that capitalism and environmentalism are mutually exclusive.  To do so, I used two theory sources that examined communication techniques and suggested that the appeals people respond to are based on their ideologies.  To analyze the success of the film I split my essay into three sections beginning with an analysis of how the communication techniques were used to discourage people from eating meat. These appeals targeted liberal audiences.  Second, I looked at how the same techniques were used to suggest that capitalism is the major driver of climate change and cannot coexist with environmentalism.  These claims were strong, focusing primarily on a symbolic representation of Monsanto.  However, they too were isolating to conservative audiences.  Lastly, I explored how Okja functioned as a work of climate fiction and found it to be successful in this genre.  Thus, my essay concludes that despite primarily employing communication techniques endorsed by liberals, the film built the appeals it used well.  Although it failed to unify its audience, it has an important place in climate change discourse which is made up of many works that, in conjunction, can promote a more sustainable future.

Session 24S: Senses of Disability: Ethnographies to See and Hear

410PM (Ames B201)
Moderator: Ann Brown, Research and User Services Librarian

Alfonso Prieto and Harrison Mahler - “Inhibition in Competition: Disability in Academic Competitive Settings”
Professor Abby Wilkerson

Our project is an endeavor of ethnographic research to explore and investigate the critical absence of disability in competitive academic environments.  Specifically, the paper focuses on two spaces: policy debate and trivia competitions.  In our explorations, we found an absence of disability discourse in trivia based competitions due to a long history of important historical figures hiding any forms of “weakness,” as well as the innate cultural desire to honor historical “heroes” who are paragons of strength.  In policy debate, we attribute this absence of disability to the harshly competitive environment, where victory is all that matters.  On this quest for triumph, arguments based in disabled identity are swept away and displaced by more “winnable” arguments.  By sparking discussion around a grossly under covered topic, we hope to forward informed discourse around disability in settings like the ones we explored.

Haley Jetter- “Music Therapy and Tourette's Syndrome”
Professor Matthew Riley

This essay seeks to establish and explain the correlation between music therapy and an improvement in the symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome. A variety of personal accounts, including my own, and studies are used to establish the correlation, and an analysis of these findings on a neurological level not only explains them, but also suggests causation. A broader look at the impact of music therapy reveals that it can also help improve the symptoms of disorders that commonly co-occur with Tourette’s, including OCD and ADHD. Since the traditional treatment of Tourette’s Syndrome, neuroleptic drugs, has many adverse side effects and is sometimes not completely successful, and the traditional treatment for ADHD often worsens tics, music therapy should be considered as an alternative or additional treatment for those who suffer from Tourette’s, ADHD, OCD, or any combination of the three.

Session 25S: Overcoming Cultural Oppression in the Media and at Home

410PM (Ames B207)
Moderator: Bill Gillis, Director of Research Services, The George Washington University Libraries

Hrishika Chakraborty- “A Cultural Divide: Appropriation/Appreciation”
Professor Danika Myers

My project analyzes few of many instances of the cultural appropriation of Black and South Asian fashion in western popular media. I discuss how the discovery of Black and South Asian fashion transformed in such a way that the originators of these cultures are not in the limelight of the representation of a highly visible part of their heritages. I attempt to reveal why there is a disconnect between the image of Black and South Asian culture in the media and the significance of each fashion to people in real life through analyzing the fashion choices of Kylie Jenner and Iggy Azalea. Each of their products, Jenner’s  Instagram post and Azalea’s  music video, demonstrate the priority of monetary compensation over cultural accuracy, commonly found in the capitalist society that is the United States. Combining the factors of perceived “otherness”, misleading cultural production, and the lack aesthetic labor put into these products helps me explain the dilution of Black and South Asian culture in the western world.

Imanee Magee- “Hidden Crowns: Exploring Internalized Oppression in the African American Community”
Professor Robin Marcus

Internalized oppression, often wrongly cited as "self-hatred," is the systematic brainwashing of African American youth that "Black is bad." From the eyes of a non-Black person, self-hatred appears rampant in the African American community; however, through this project, I shed light on the true beauty of my community through the eyes of someone who has experienced its struggles, and its successes. This project focuses on rectifying that misused definition, by not only discovering the deep-rooted causes of internalized oppression and its effects on African Americans, but also on how to undo its negative teachings and exploring its solution- one that has never left us: self-love.


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