University Writing & Research Conference Program Spring 2019

Spring 2019 Conference Schedule

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

Session 1: Public Eyes: The Role of the Press in Policing Justice

10AM--Ames B101
            Moderator: Feraz Ashraf

Asreeta Ushasri- “Visual Framing of Protests and the Ideological Portrayal of Race”

Professor Michael Svoboda

This study seeks to analyze the generic visual framing of photos from two different protest movements in America, in order to determine if bias is present. Based on the generic visual framing method, photos from three American news outlets will be coded from the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Unite the Right rallies. It is anticipated that there will be slight differences in the coverage of these protests, where news outlets will be less sympathetic to minority protestors as in the past media outlets have not portrayed minorities positively (Johnson, Olivo, Gibson, Reed & Ashburn-Nardo, 2009). This analysis is pertinent to the overall societal views of racial issues in America, as the framing of news can impact public opinion and even impact direct attitudes towards populations. The findings of this research may prompt further studies in the possibility of racial bias in other forms of media, such as social media platforms, in order to fully understand the extent or existence of such bias.

Scott Higgins- “The Importance of Investigative Journalism in Regard to Police Brutality”

Professor Sean Pears

This paper studies the importance that investigative journalism has in cases of police brutality. This was accomplished through the study of Ida B. Wells’ 1900 work Mob Rule in New Orleans and Shaun King’s piece Police Lied, as both writers handle a case of police brutality against an unoffending black citizen with a lack of bias and a desire to deliver the truth, in search of justice for the victim. Ida B. Wells wrote of Robert Charles, a black man targeted not only by police, but a mob of 20,000 New Orleans residents who found excitement in the thrilling chase, a fantasy worsened by local media. Local news outlets cast Charles as a “desperado” and glorified the “dead or alive” reward. Shaun King’s piece centers around the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police, focusing on a false fact police published (and failed to correct for nearly 100 days) about the incident, the distance between the police SUV and Brown’s body. Both writers exemplify the pinnacle of journalistic integrity, in well-researched, thought-provoking, and objectively clear works. 

Session 2: Food Factions: Political Divides in the Production and Consumption of Food

10AM--Ames B109
            Moderator: Tracy Arwari

Morgan Starling- “Elimination vs Reduction: The Morality and Ethics of Vegan Advocacy”

Professor Lindsay Jacoby

While both environmental and animal advocacy groups recognize the harmful effects of the animal agricultural industry, even the most radical environmental groups are hesitant to promote veganism. The animal rights group, PETA, and the environmental advocacy group, Greenpeace, are microcosms of this trend concerning veganism. PETA has been quick to use the environmental effects of animal agriculture to promote veganism among people concerned about the future of the environment. However, Greenpeace does not similarly promote a vegan diet as the solution to the pollution of the meat and dairy industry. Instead, Greenpeace advises those concerned about the environment to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy products, highlighting an apparent hesitation to convey support for veganism. Examining activist groups through their framing of morality and ethics reveals that unlike many animal rights groups, environmental groups recognize the morality of varied cultures causing them to avoid a global advertisement of veganism.

Eitan Magaliff- “Ag-gag: How Three Minutes of Footage Sparks a Legal Battle and a Moral Debate”

Professor Eric Botts

In my paper I report on the legal and ethical debates surrounding undercover investigations at animal agriculture facilities and the ag-gag laws that come about because of them. I detail the journey of a single bill in Idaho, from its passage to subsequent court rulings, diving into the possible motivations of the bill’s proponents while presenting the legal considerations of the courts. I also seek to address the moral issues surrounding this topic. Are undercover investigations ethical? Is the way we are treating farm animals ethical? Is dishonesty acceptable if for a moral reason? During my research I spoke to two people coming from very different sides of this issue. They each introduce important perspectives and considerations that, while countering each other, contribute to a well-rounded understanding of the core issues I address. There are rarely straight-forward answers to incredibly nuanced questions. With that being said, there are important insights to be had.

Session 3: Life Loosed in Art: When Private Lives Slip Public Mores

10AM--Ames B201
            Moderator: Joe Fisher

Annie Roberts- “Uncaging the Sparrow: Teaching Sexually Explicit Catullus to High Schoolers”

Professor Marcos Martinez

Catullus is one of the most famous neoteric Latin poets in history. His poetry is most known for the intensity of passion and hate contained in them about his infamous secret love affair and his political rivals. He is included in high school Latin curricula all over the world because the translation of his poetry is so complex and artistically beautiful. His poetry, however, is riddled with countless sexually explicit words and innuendos. Many prominent Latin scholars throughout time have struggled with how to translate his poems that are sexually explicit. There are three general ways translators deal with his obscenity. Some have blatantly refused to translate his sexual poems; some acknowledge the sexual language present but analyze it in a non-sexual way; some acknowledge the obscenities and seek a unique explanation for why Catullus would go to such sexual extremes. Beyond the decision of how to translate Catullus’ obscenity lies the complexity of teaching teenage students in high school how to deal with this translation. By learning to analyze Catullus’ sexually explicit poems in all three ways, high school Latin students are able to interpret poetry more fully and to develop their analytical skills further.


Farzona Comnas- “Molenaer's Self-Portrait as a Lute Player: Pursuing Harmony in a Time of Dischord ”

Professor Rachel Pollack

Writing an essay about an obscure artist turned my research process into a speculative exploration of who Jan Miense Molenaer was and how he saw himself as an artist and husband during the Dutch Golden Age. With only his court filings as surviving documents, his biography only falls into place when you analyze his paintings. There, you learn about his study under the famous Dutch portrait-painter Frans Hals, his marriage to Dutch artist Judith Leyster, and his infatuation with humor, love, and music.

 Distilling my findings to popular emblems, prevalent lines of poetry, and the biographies of Molenaer and Judith Leyster, my essay reveals that his self-portrait depicts more than a seated man holding a stringed instrument: Molenaer’s piece reflects how Dutch society and his own life prevail through a time of devastation to find inspiration in loving harmony.

Session 4: Updating Public Perceptions of Personal Identities

10AM--Ames B207
            Moderator: Leila Kramer

Stephanie Lee- “The Model Minority Stereotype: Merely a Myth ”

Professor Kylie Quave

As Asian Americans are perceived to be the "model minority," they have been depicted as a group that does not have any social, economic, or political obstacles that stand in their way of accomplishing status in employment and education. However, as there are over thirty Asian American ethnic groups, this is simply not the case for the population as a whole. Consequently, the existence of the "Model Minority Stereotype" has long prevented many Asian Americans from receiving proper mental health treatment throughout the United States and abroad. This project focuses on different cases and research that aim to answer the question: “How has the existence of the ‘Model Minority Stereotype’ impacted the mental health needs of Asian Americans?” By examining the various effects of the "Model Minority Stereotype," one can understand how other minority groups, even non-minority, are covertly affected with the rest of the Asian American community, and what can be done to properly address mental health needs that are currently not being met.


Chloe Cole- “Breaking Down the “Crazy”: Evaluating the Effects of Media on the Stigmatization of People with Mental Disorders”

Professor Wade Fletcher

Since its emergence nearly thirty years ago, the impact mass media has had on American society is undeniable. Movies and television have taught Americans how to live in the world through the ways they talk, act, and interact with others.  Having become such a large part of everyday life, there is no wonder media has affected the way people view mental illness. When films inaccurately portray someone with a mental illness as being violent or unable to live a normal life, the public becomes misinformed. In movies like, Split and Psycho, characters with mental disorders are killers and kidnappers, constantly aiming to inflict pain upon people. This false portrayal of people suffering from mental illness overemphasizes mostly negative aspects of the illnesses (Harper 2008). The stigma that develops from the media affects the way society then treats mentally ill people in everyday life by ostracizing them. This paper aims to connect the effect of stigmas in the media with the treatment of mental illness. People with mental disorders are unable to go about their daily lives without experiencing exclusion and often avoid getting treatment for fear of being further stigmatized. By addressing the stigma present in American culture, we are able to change the way we treat those with mental disorders and how the media presents them.

Session 5: #AmWriting: Researching, Authoring, and Auditing in the Age of New Media

1130AM--Ames B101
            Moderator: Tawnya Azar

Elijah Karshner- “A Quantitative Analysis of NASA’s Twitter Metadata to Increase Engagement”

Professor Tawyna Azar

From the earliest days of the Apollo program to the most recent successes with the Parker Solar Probe, NASA has been a beacon of technological advancement and international cooperation, with domestic bipartisan support. However, NASA is still stymied by lack of funding and public engagement. By analyzing NASA’s tweets, this paper considers how trends can be used to target social media and research towards more publicly favored topics. This is done by examining the metadata of tweets to determine which topics, formats, or hashtags generate the most interaction on a tweet. Increasing public support and engagement through these methods has the potential to change how the US government allocates its funding and could potentially alleviate NASA’s budget constraints. As humanity increasingly looks towards the stars, every measure should be taken to ensure that we have the highest chance of success.

Ilena Peng- “The Discussion of Social Media Sites Within News Outlets’ Tweets ”

Professor Tawnya Azar

The increasing popularity of social media has created an interconnected relationship between social media and traditional news outlets in recent years. Social media’s influence on everything around us is commonly discussed in this digital age in which social media permeates all aspects of society; however, the reputation and connotations of social media itself are much less discussed. This study focuses on news sites’ coverage of social media, as the inverse of the more commonly studied influence of social media on news sites. By searching a set of tweets from approximately 4,500 news outlets for the keywords “Facebook,” “Twitter,” “Instagram,”, and “Snapchat,” I was able to collect and assess the content of 50,000 tweets. I will review the content of these tweets to determine the types of information being conveyed. These findings will offer insight concerning the discussion of social media in news outlets, potentially contributing to the more general field of how the content of news sites shapes our perceptions of social media sites.

Jamie Joyce Wang- “The Impact of Political Rhetoric on Public Perception of Climate Change”

Professor Tawnya Azar

The complete rhetorical effects of politicians’ and influencers’ Twitter tweets on public views regarding climate change have yet to be determined. Measuring the public’s views is limited by the volatile and temporary nature of tweets, along with the varying numbers and types of people who follow users of differing political beliefs and ideologies. The question remains on how impactful rhetoric can be in shaping public sentiment on the climate crisis. I will examine the nature of the problem by analyzing rhetorical strategies from climate change-related tweets in an existing Twitter dataset gathered from Gelman Library’s Social Feed Manager. This study seeks to understand how Twitter rhetoric may play a role in how the public consumes and perceives both political and scientific information, particularly with reference to climate change.

Session 6: The Visceral Politics of Fictional Realms

1130AM--Ames B109
            Moderator: Bridgette Behling

Anna Connelly- “Rampant Dissension Within the Shadowhunter Fandom”

Professor Kathy Larsen

We've all heard the saying, "the book was better than the movie." It's a statement that alienates new viewers from loyal readers who've been there since the beginning. It fuels internal division as readers assert their dedication over newcomers, rather than embracing their shared interests. This statement also implies that media producers are unable to satisfy the fans they should be working to impress. Many readers have preconceived notions of how their beloved characters look, act, and exist‚ establishing impossible standards for producers to replicate. Whereas some fandoms only have to deal with one of these issues, the Shadowhunter fandom is known for its struggle with both. When it comes to addressing a possible solution to the fandom divide, I turn to the interdependent relationship between fans and media producers. I argue that fan/producer relationships can unite the Shadowhunter fandom because it creates quality content where all sides find satisfaction‚ both symbolically and financially.

Joseph Garber- “Dungeons & Defamation: a Defense of Dungeons and Dragons”

Professor Sandie Friedman

This paper seeks to undercut the stereotypes that impacts the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and its players, and to in turn redeem D&D as a valuable cultural phenomenon. D&D is lauded as a gimmick at best and a “game for nerds” at worst. These stereotypes, which are borne largely of the game’s complexity and opacity, gravely hinder the game’s popularity and harm its players. However, D&D is, at its core, a collective storytelling venture—a practice which humans have championed for thousands of years—and it has tremendous value as a form of communication and recreation. This paper will explore the specific bases for D&D’s most harmful unfounded stereotypes, and explore subsequent methods through which they may be qualified, mitigated, or overturned; additionally, it will demonstrate D&D’s capacity to positively and substantially impact people’s lives, which is often overlooked. Lastly, it will seek to demystify D&D for readers to some extent, so as to allow readers to make their own decisions about the game, and to prevent unfounded stereotypes about D&D from perpetuating.

Session 7: Is Sharing Truly Caring? Intersections of Politics, Charity, and Social Media.

1130AM--Ames B112
            Moderator: Mary Buckley

Zoë  Kusnierz- “Regime Change and Repression: The Paradox of Social Media in the 21st Century”

Professor Marcos Martinez

My research project discusses the present uses of a very new, powerful, and prevalent tool in the twenty-first century: social media. Through my research, I discovered that in this day and age social media is paradoxical. Frequently used to voice political opinions and unite civil society, social media has become a liberal space for people to unite and stand up for what they believe in. However, at the same time, social media can be employed by authoritarian regimes to suppress and isolate populations. My research essay begins with an introduction to the history and emergence of modern social media. Next, I focus on how social media is most effectively used to drive social change through the “Dragonfly Effect.” A subsection on social media and politics follows, which details various movements that have taken place online. Lastly, I focus on disruptions and distractions on social media that are initiated by authoritarian regimes. As an International Affairs major, I knew I wanted to write my research essay on a topic with a global reach. I believe that the intersection between world events and social media/the internet is extremely relevant today and will be even more so in the future.

Peter Brukx- “Greed Trumps Charity: Dutch Art as a Warning”

Professor Rachel Pollack

In Jacob Ochtervelt's 1663 work‚"Nurse and a Child in an Elegant Foyer," the Dutch master offers his viewers a warning: be wary of charity for personal gain. Ochtervelt’s warning maintains its relevance beyond the Dutch Golden Age. It can be applied to contemporary examples, like US President Donald Trump’s charity, the Trump Foundation.

Session 8: Giving Voice to Nature When Facts Don’t Speak for Themselves

1130AM--Ames B207
            Moderator: Joscelyn Levanthal

Claudio Martinez- “Howling With Wolves Glues Us Together”

Professor Eric Botts

Over thousands of years, human animosity has chipped away at the wolf’s character, condemning it to a reputation of deception and evil. The wolf howl is a fear-inducing reverberation that sends shivers down every spine. How could such a chilling sound be a tool of connection? The Wolf Conservation Center, founded by world-renowned pianist, Helene Grimaud, connects humans and wolves through howling events, where visitors howl with the wolves onsite. Previously, Grimaud observed wolf packs howling and harmonizing, an activity referred to as chorus howling. She believes that wolf harmonization strengthens the packs social connections. In addition, Grimaud witnessed situations where wolves harmonized with human howls. She reasons that the bonds wolves strengthen when chorus howling is similar to the connections that humans strengthen when they sing together. She suggests that harmonization creates a bond between the wolves and humans participating in the chorus howl. Grimaud’s conclusions can be supported by observer’s accounts in the field of wolf studies and research that highlights the importance of communication in wolf populations. These findings suggest that humans can create connections with members of other species through music. These tangible connections can motivate individuals to care for wolves in the future.

Washington Ross- “Exciting People about Climate Change with Boring Facts”

Professor Lindsay Jacoby

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a United Nations organization that brings together climate scientists to communicate the dangers of climate change and recommend to governments how they should respond. Looking at the summary for policymakers of one such report from 2018, I analyse its effectiveness at explaining climate science to a non-expert audience. Comparing the report's language to strategies commonly used when accommodating science for non-experts, I argue that the IPCC does not effectively communicate its message given its disengaged clinical language, admitted uncertainty in its claims, and heavy use of scientific jargon.

Session 9: An Examination of Gender in Film

1PM--Ames B101
            Moderator: Dean Elizabeth Chacko

Emma Marszalek- “Expecting More than the Bechdel Test:  An Investigation of How to Best Assess Female Representation in Film ”

Professor Wade Fletcher

In 2013, four Swedish cinemas aimed to encourage gender equality in film by adopting a rating system based on the Bechdel Test, a set of three rules: a film must have at least two women, these women must have a conversation, and the conversation cannot be about a male.  While this decision highlighted the film industry’s vast gender disparity, many question the Bechdel Test’s validity.  Not only does it set low standards, but it also ignores important factors such as the characters’ relevance to and agency within the narrative as well as the inclusion of female minorities.  Still, these Swedish cinemas were right to try to inform consumers.  Solutions to the gender imbalance must include consumer support of films that adequately represent women; thus, consumers need to know which films to support.  Believing an established standard would encourage such awareness, I investigated possibilities for an alternative to the Bechdel Test.  Analyzing various studies on female representation in film, I identified the criteria used to measure the women’s presence and role and/or the characteristics designated to define a film as feminist.  I found that an effective assessment must consider the quantity, quality and diversity of female representation in film.

Sneeha Bose- “Star Wars and Gendered Perceptions of Characters”

Professor Katherine Larsen

In a period where Hollywood is diversifying and adapting greater modes of representation, the big franchise Star Wars is not an exception. This paper explores fans’ perceptions of the increased gender representation subverting conventional images in what was once a male-centric piece of media. It draws on previous examinations of gender roles, gendered representations in film, and sociological studies on fan and audience interactions with characters. By observing female and male characters and how fans interact with them, I assert that the backlash to certain characters can be attributed to their contrarian representations. Using the concept of the male glance, in which female-centric media is often seen as more frivolous than their male counterparts, and notions of toxic masculinity, this paper pushes audiences to examine and be aware of their own biases affecting their perceptions as they face more diverse media.

Session 10: The Expansive Role of Popular Culture Ethics

1PM--Ames B109
            Moderator: Tina Plottel

Ananya Murthy- “"Not a Big Deal": How the Harry Potter Fandom's Response to Cultural Appropriation Harms Native Peoples”

Professor Kathy Larsen

This article discusses fan response, in the form of comments on Reddit, to author J.K. Rowling’s new work, which appropriates the culture of several Native American tribes and plays into old stereotypes of Native American peoples. The fan responses are analyzed in accordance with theories on the commodification and position of Native Americans in the media (Kulchyski), to argue that fan responses that support Rowling are based in the normalization of commodification of Native American cultures and the systematic marginalization of these peoples. The works of Barbour, Shanley, and Turner Strong and Posner provide the background for analysis of Native Americans in different forms of media, arguing that portrayals of Native Americans are romanticized. This study can be used to show how, even in seemingly harmless representations, Native peoples continue to become marginalized, and must be given a bigger voice and the ability to represent themselves in media.

Elijah Flores- “Racial Fetishism: The Detrimental Nature of “Preference” in Society”

Professor Kylie Quave

"Fetish" carries connotations of personal, unnatural desires of the perverted nature that carry about an air of debauchery. The Freudian and Marxist theories of fetishism share the central theme of perversive emotional relations towards that which the subject lacks. The theories were used to justify  dark fantasies as “only human.” Interestingly, traditional theory does not highlight the possibility of racial/ethnic difference, or lack thereof, as a cause of fetishism. In failing to do so, the traditional theories of fetishism tend to lack true encapsulation of the social effects set in motion by the objectification of the exotic in American culture. In an inverse relationship to popular belief, fetishism itself evolves with American culture and beliefs, including deep-rooted ideologies such as the steady oppression of women and minorities. This nature of preference, both praising of some races and degrading of others, clearly can be observed with its roots in modern American society. This paper will establish the link between the evolving world and this new brand of fetishism will be established through the examination of the traditional theories of fetishism, the modern social climate in which racial fetishism has evolved, and their links to the culture of oppression in America.

Dahlia Haddad- “All the King's Horses and All the King's Men Couldn't Put the Official Order of Comedy Back Together Again: The Velocity of Hannah Gadsby's "Nanette"”

Professor Niles Tomlinson

Comedian Hannah Gadsby's latest special, "Nanette," holds an uncanny ability to subvert the subversive. She refuses to submit to the expectation that comedians must dissolve their created tensions and put audiences at ease; she demands that the audience rethink the ways in which they consume comedy and narrative. Gadsby exposes the carnivalesque orders of comedy from the construction of a joke to the inner humiliation of self-deprecating comedy to the structure of a comedy show in whole. Her greatest feat, however, draws from her vulnerability. Within her truths lie discomforts which audiences do not frequently face. Gadsby’s show led to late-night appearances, Op-Eds, and whole radio segments dedicated to the discussion of feminism, queer intersectionality, and the construction and mental health ramifications of self-deprecating humor. To say that the show has velocity means that it contains both direction and magnitude. The direction stems from the social focuses and the magnitude springs from the media’s outpour of praise. Paired with her vulnerability, the show comprises unparalleled velocity. This is the trait that differentiates Gadsby’s subversion from others in the past. Her work perpetuates the comedic cycles of subversion that critique establishment, provoke public thought, and ultimately lead to the continuation of comedy as an art form.

Session 11: Systemic Practices within Medical Care and Education

1PM--Ames B112
            Moderator: Lowell Abrams

Marney O'Connor- “Kristen Reis' Impact on Patients Living with AIDs in the 1980s and the Implications of Empathetic Medical Care”

Professor Jameta Barlow

This paper explores the lack of empathetic caregiving in the field of medicine and how this effects the treatment major illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, as was prevalent in the 1980’s when doctors would refuse to treat patients out of fear and misunderstanding of the HIV infection (“HIV”). In the decades that followed the epidemic that killed thousands, and in a world where 35% of countries with available data have a 50% rate of stigma and misunderstanding relating to HIV/AIDS, more research emerged about how warm, supportive, and accepting care caused higher patient success and quality of life (Ibid.). This paper will emphasize the example set by doctors Kristen Reis and Maggie Snyder in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the late 1970’s and 1980’s as they sought to provide care for the abandoned patients with HIV/AIDS (Mackenzie). Treating these patients was a milestone in itself, considering they were momentarily the only doctors who would treat patients with HIV in Utah, but even more so because of their empathetic approach to treatment (Ibid.). Their work is an example of an effective approach to healthcare and emphasizes the need for inclusivity and solidarity in the world of medicine that has often neglected and suppressed the work and experiences of minorities.

Hannah Edwards- “The Relics of Racism, Evolution, and Creationism”

Professor Heather Schell

The discriminatory and self-perpetuating practices exhibited in our educational system have severe impacts on the mental health of students of color. Low-income and minority students are consistently at a disadvantage in America’s schools today because of the following three types of racism: institutional, structural, and personal. School districts that are predominantly African-American and low-income are severely underfunded. Ensuring adequate evolution education presents an opportunity to improve the conditions of school districts that are underfunded. We will explore the historical links between racism, evolution, and creationism to critically analyze policy solutions including: in-school literacy programs and diversity training. Overall, this paper seeks to illuminate the need for equity in education by demonstrating the ways low-income and minority students are affected by the high-end opportunity gap.

Session 12: Contemporary Politics of Football

1PM--Ames B201
            Moderator: Abby Wilkerson

Alex Garner, Alejandro Cervantes, Mark Kurbatskiy- “The concussive momentum of football”

Professor Abby Wilkerson

For many high schoolers, playing a sport is a distinguishing, fundamental aspect of life that provides individuality among their peers in an otherwise uniform academic setting. With our qualitative ethnography, we intended to understand why many athletes playing football will continue to play despite the danger of a disabling recurrent injury. We found for each individual, football culture compounded the disabling symptoms of a physical impairment by shaping injury to be incompatible against expectations to perform as an able-bodied athlete. Because of the connection each athlete shared with their sport, he frequently rushed recovery times and despite his concussion(s), opted to return to play. In this critical analysis, by framing our ethnography in the context of scholarly publication, we aim to investigate how team interactions within the environment of football create a masculine, primal, functionality-oriented mindset which forces players to ignore concussions and their disabling symptoms.

Session 13: The Intricate Relationship Between Social Media, Politics and Scandal

1PM--Ames B207
            Moderator: David Lemmons

Cristina Cestone- “Tweet Tweet, Bitch: An Analysis of Acceptable Twitter Use, Online Incivility, Branding, and Roseanne Barr”

Professor Carol Hayes

In May 2018 Roseanne Barr tweeted that Valerie Jarrett, ex-adviser to President Obama, looked like "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby." In the aftermath of her tweet, Roseanne was cancelled by the Walt Disney Company as the owner of ABC, and ABC issued that her statement was incompatible with its values and brand. Barr claimed that the tweet was politically targeting the Iran Deal that Jarrett worked on with Obama, but the tweet’s racist character was evident. This paper focuses on how Twitter fosters online incivility within Barr through its simple, impulsive and uncivil nature. Although shock and controversy are part of Barr’s brand, this instance of online incivility was racist, consequently damaging her reputation, ABC’s, and the Walt Disney Company’s. This paper argues that online incivility is easy for users to succumb to, but celebrities such as Barr should maintain their social media accounts because of its benefits of collaboration. The paper ultimately recommends that ABC and Disney should maintain the ethical and civil standards that they enforced upon Barr in order to protect their brand from similar future incidents.

Adarsh Patel- “Face Swap: How Russian Facebook Ads During the 2016 Election Fooled America”

Professor Michael Svoboda

News media have reported extensively on Russian interference and social media influence during the 2016 United States election season. Most reports have focused on how Russia exploited controversial issues to further instability in American society or attempted to sway the election. This study considered Russia’s attempts to destabilize the US rather than any attempt to directly affect the election. It sought to understand the rhetorical logic behind Russia’s propagandist appeals by examining both the technical and abstract appeals employed. Using visual semiotics and visual framing analysis, this study examined visual propaganda and political communication methods used by Russia to create manipulative social media advertising. The exhibits examined included some of the most popular Facebook ads produced by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), Russia’s troll factory. Findings indicated that appeals to identity were the most frequently employed propaganda technique but were intended to attract consumers to different identities. These appeals were reinforced through the construction of narratives and false identities of propagandist social media accounts. The study concluded with a strong suggestion that Russia’s ads may have been effective in dividing Americans not because they exploited ideological or political divisions but rather because they appealed to a growing American identity crisis.

Session 14: Improving Systems

230PM--Ames B101
            Moderator: Fred Joutz

Georgena Mierow- “How the Lack of Access to Menstruation Products Affects the Health of Women Experiencing Homelessness”

Professor  Jameta Barlow

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the health of women experiencing homelessness, as it correlates to the lack of access to menstrual products. This study researches the effects income has to health and wellness. It aims to propose a solution to begin to obtain universal social equality for all women regardless of socioeconomic status. Women experiencing homelessness lack the necessary resources critical to the hygiene of their menstruation cycle. This study examines how women experiencing homelessness feel both emotionally and physically due to the lack of menstrual products available to them. To help contemporary society better understand this complex issue, a study will be proposed. To give insight into this issue, this study will be situated around conducting interviews with a diverse group of women experiencing homelessness of reproductive age and looking at the analysis of field data. These methods have the potential to yield critical answers to solve this problem, in order to bring about change and universal social equality. The findings of this study may be useful in treating medical conditions prevalent in the homeless community due neglected feminine hygiene and can be used to create new laws to better the access underprivileged women have to menstrual products.

Abigail Lukas- “ How has the Implementation of Title IX Affected the Current Day Treatment of Male and Female Athletes at the Collegiate Level?”

Professor Jameta Barlow

The goal of this paper is to assess whether the current state of Title IX does a sufficient job in regard to treating male and female athletes, who are part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), equally. Prior to 1972, many colleges denied women the right to participate in college athletics. Eight years after the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, Title IX was created to prevent gender discrimination in education, leading to an increase in sports participation for both men and women in college sports. Title IX requires there to be an equal number of sports offered to men and women by the university, an equal number of scholarships distributed to men and women, and equal treatment for both sexes in their respective sports. In theory, Title IX sounds like a beneficial law, but in reality, the legislation has been a catalyst for many unforeseen issues and consequences. These issues include but are not limited to, implementing sports with negative revenue, not gaining enough revenue per sport, lack of scholarship opportunities for certain sports, continued funding disparities between men’s and women’s sports, sexual abuse of athletes, and persisting unequal treatment of athletes. The way that Title IX is interpreted in collegiate athletics appears to vary across and within institutions. To account for these disparities, this paper proposes conducting a national mixed study to compare Title IX’s impact on college campuses with respect to athletics. A mixed method study comprised of quantitative survey data and qualitative interviews collegiate athletes will seek to understand the inequities in the treatment of male and female athletes as well as to compare the implementation methods of Title IX. To account for the inequities in the NCAA, a potential solution is a mandatory professional development program to train athletes and universities on Title IX. This will ensure the health of college athletes across the United States.

Nayeli Selkis - “New York - Improving Evolution and Science Education in a High Performing State”

Professor Heather Schell

Our assignment was to choose any state and analyze the effectiveness and accuracy of its evolution education program through the eyes of an employee at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) and then propose policy options to improve said program. I chose New York because not only is it my home state but I wanted to examine how the education system could be underperforming in the areas of evolution and science education while still maintaining a high level of overall academic success.

 Because of New York’s geopolitical makeup, I chose to examine factors such as poverty, literacy and the science curriculum itself. I also chose to limit my scope to the top ten densest counties in New York as they could serve as a pilot program for my suggested policies which could then be possibly implemented in other counties.

Session 15: Re-Imagining Culture and Health in Africa and the Diaspora

230PM--Ames B109
            Moderator: Marius Ghincea

Raina Hackett - “Curing the Infection of Race: A Critical Reevaluation of Health in the African Diaspora ”

Professor Kylie Quave

This paper explores the epidemiological implications found within the African diaspora as products of either environmental predispositions and natural selection or the disarray resulting from conquest, segregation, and displacement. The false biological concept of race consequently emerged from colonization and imperialism and ultimately led to disparities in health between those of European descent and those of African descent. Firstly, to define race, the Transatlantic slave trade, the Scramble for Africa, and the New Imperialism period are explored; drawing local sources from the exhibits at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Sickle cell anemia and hypertension are then critically compared to explain genetic distance and genetic variation. And finally, contemporary issues such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the African “pathological revolution” are used to conclude this article. The range of sources and explanations advocate for the structural reconstruction of how the world views medicine and health.
Kareemot Siyanbola- “Where Is Africa?”

Professor Robin Marcus

Based on my personal experiences as a Nigerian American from the Bronx, New York, I chose to focus my research paper on the developments of Africanism within the African-American community. Africanism refers to the elements of African culture that have manifest themselves across the African Diaspora. The United States eurocentric education system fails to highlight the ways in which Africans and African-Americans are culturally and historically connected. This miseducation has led to the current divide within the Diaspora. A division that should have never been there in the first place. In an attempt to encourage Black unity throughout GWs campus, I use this paper to share these subtle, yet strong, connections within the Black community.

Session 16: Boundaries and Ethics

230PM--Ames B117
            Moderator: Andy Sonn

Braeden Pugh- “Tackling Tennessee's teachings: How the NCSE can improve Tennessee's evolution education”

Professor Heather Schell

Tennessee's science education system is currently undergoing a major overhaul due to new science standards that were passed in 2016 and are being implemented during the 2018-19 school year. Moreover, HB 368 gives teachers the right to discuss creationism in the classroom as long as it is initially brought up by a student. To ensure Tennessee’s public-school system offers a complete and unbiased teaching of evolution as well as to evaluate the impact of the new science standards, this brief gives the options of establishing teacher trainings in collaboration with the Tennessee Association of Biology Teachers, lobbying for the overturn or repeal of HB 368, or establishing new science testing standards in concert with the Tennessee Department of Education. A final recommendation is made that the interests of the NCSE would best be fulfilled through the implementation of new teacher trainings.

Jessica Nix - “Teacher Free Speech Rights vs. School Image: A Question about Social Media”

Professor Carol Hayes

On September 23, 2018, a top high school administrator at Oakridge School in Arlington, Texas, Butch Groves, sent a private twitter direct message to celebrity lawyer, Michael Avenatti. Avenatti had just released that he would be representing another woman accusing then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Groves told Avenatti in the message that he was a “…fucking douche bag. You lying piece of shit,” which expressed Groves’ support of Kavanaugh being confirmed as a Supreme Court Judge. Avenatti proceeded to post the message to his personal twitter feed, alerting the school and families of the message. Groves was suspended indefinitely the next day. This paper addresses the free speech rights of teachers and how comments from teachers can impact the school they represent. This paper also defines public employees’ speech being seen as an extension of the institution they work for while private employees have freedom of speech protection as long as their speech does not violate their company’s contract. However, looking at public or private employees does not matter when applying the argument to teachers; teachers are always a representative of the school. Groves believed he was sending the message to Avenatti as a private employee and would therefore have no repercussions because it did not violate his contract as being a private message. However, since Avenatti posted the message to his public account, the Oakridge school and Butch Groves received negative attention and Groves was seen as a representation of the school through his comments. The Oakridge school was right to fire Groves because Groves was seen as an employee of the school and brought negative attention to the school. Finally, this paper addresses how the Oakridge school should alter their employee social media contracts to be more clear for employees, so employees are seen online as the best representatives of the school.

Session 17: Race and Class in America's Schools and Neighborhoods

230PM--Ames B201
            Moderator: Leah Richardson

Anna Pelletiere- “The Wharf and Urban Renewal: Sharing the Story of a Destroyed DC Community”

Professor Gordon Mantler

The new Wharf in Southwest DC is a beautiful public space that has drawn thousands of visitors, yet it hides an overlooked and often forgotten segment of American and DC history: urban renewal. This policy of destroying swaths of American cities to renew urban centers tore up existing communities, often along racial lines. DC's Southwest neighborhood was one of the earliest and most jarring examples, a history that ought to be recognized publicly. This paper and presentation delve into the history of Southwest and urban renewal, but also the Wharf and the importance of sharing buried histories publicly.

Jeremy Liskar- “W.E.B. Du Bois and the Intersection of Race and Class in America's Schools”

Professor Sean Pears

The racial achievement gap in education in the United States is profound and has existed throughout this country’s history. This analysis examines the observations of educator and sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois in his work The Souls of Black Folk, in which he wrote about how the policies during the Reconstruction Era failed to close the achievement gap. He observed how the impacts of race are greatly intertwined with the impacts of class and argues that the two factors cannot be separated in the discussion of educational and societal inequity. The analysis then shows how his observations about the role of policies and history in creating and maintaining a racial achievement gap in education have influenced modern educational policy scholars. It connects the work of scholars such as Eve Ewing and Richard Rothstein with Du Bois’s, explaining how they have expanded upon his arguments and applied his understanding of the roles of race, class, history, and policy to the modern state of educational and societal inequity. Overall, it conveys the necessity of including vast economic measures in modern policy addressing the racial achievement gap.

Session 18: Medicine and Healthcare in China

230PM--Ames B207
            Moderator: Deborah Bezanson

Lina Qi- “Loved to Death”

Professor Eric Botts

Jinbi Tian- “A Proposal to Examine the Effects of Relaxing the One-child Policy to a Two-child Policy on Women's Reproductive Health in China”

Professor Jameta Barlow

In 1979, the Chinese government implemented the one-child policy to control the population growth rate in China. In 2016, the government proposed a two-child policy to reduce the undesirable social and economic costs imposed by the previous policy. Considering the influence of Confucianism on women’s social status in China, an investigation on how women have been impacted by family planning policies is crucial to advocate for women’s reproductive health and rights. This paper proposes a mixed-methods research. Surveys and interviews will be conducted to examine the effects of such policy change on women’s reproductive health. The proposed research will include a total of 1,150 women from rural and urban areas across China. Based on previous studies and literatures, it is expected that the relaxation of the one-child policy has improved women’s reproductive health due to the repeal of mandatory contraception and the freedom of decision on contraceptive methods. This proposed study hopes to advocate for Chinese women’s health and to draw policymakers’ attention to the effects of family planning policies on women’s reproductive health.

Session 19: Feminism, Healthcare, and the Law

410PM--Ames B101
            Moderator: Ann Brown

Mia Harris- “A Feminist Perspective on the Mandatory Delay Law in Mississippi: Where are Black Women?”

Professor Jameta Barlow

Abortion is a highly convoluted topic in American society. Ever since the Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade, there has been equal efforts on both sides of the issue to either preserve or remove abortion services in America. This research proposal was crafted to identify the way certain state laws, specifically the mandatory delay law, was manifested, instituted and continues to operate as a factor that affects black women's access to abortion in Mississippi today. More generally, the paper aims to recognize how women’s health, specifically and especially black women, is a pressing issue with many different facets. Thus, while my paper is in its whole is a public health research proposal, it is also rooted in the social and cultural ideas that have and continue to shape the country. 

James Conley-Lincoln- “Mutiny in the Ranks: An analysis of the conservative senators who voted against the July 2017 "skinny repeal" bill”

Professor Michael Svoboda

Using Moral Foundations Theory and Stasis Analysis, I analyzed op-eds lauding or criticizing Senators John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski for their votes against the 2017 Republican “skinny repeal” health care bill. I determined the Moral Foundations invoked in each op-ed, and then determined if there was a significant difference between the moral judgments made in left-leaning and right-leaning commentaries. I expected to find that the moral appeals made by the op-eds of both sides would center on the Moral Foundations most closely associated with conservatism; liberal writers would attempt to show how Sens. McCain, Collins and Murkowski actually acted nobly and in keeping with the ideals of conservatism, while conservative writers would portray the senators as betraying those same ideals. Furthermore, I used Stasis analysis to gain an even deeper understanding of the arguments of both sides by finding the main points of contention between opposing op-eds. I predicted that the most frequent areas of disagreement between liberal and conservative writers would appear on the stasis points of “conjecture,” “definitions,” and “values.” My findings are relevant in the field of political psychology and the study of political persuasion; they add new knowledge, based on a recent political event, on the left and right’s moral reactions to intra-party dissent, as well as showing the specific points of rhetorical disagreement in these moral reactions.

Session 20: Acknowledging Language and Its Impacts

410PM--Ames B109
            Moderator: Marcos Martinez

Rebecca Ioane- “Hawai`i Creole English and the Effects of Stigma on Education”

Professor Marcos Martinez

Until 2016, Hawai`i Creole English (more commonly known as Pidgin, a mixture of languages that originated on sugar plantations in the 19th century) was not acknowledged as an official language by the U.S. government. Ironically, 2016 was the same year that the last sugar plantation in the state was closed down. However, federal recognition has done little to affect the state's system of education. Throughout modern history, the state's government has pushed the belief that Pidgin speakers are uneducated or less intelligent than those who speak Standard American English (SAE). The Hawai`i State Board of Education has used the prevalence of Hawai`i Creole English as a scapegoat for the state's poor standardized test scores. This paper uses statistics, state budgets, and testimonies from teachers to combat this narrative and provide another explanation for the state's difficulties with education.

Jennifer Tse- “The Challenge from One Nation to Two‚Äî Korean Language Bifurcation”

Professor Marcos Martinez

North Korea and South Korea were once one nation known as the Korean Peninsula ruled by its own form of government. However, peace was disrupted in the early 20th Century when the Korean Peninsula was annexed to the Empire of Japan in their conquest to imperialize other nations. After their defeat in World War II, the Soviet Union and United States split the Korean Peninsula into North Korea and South Korea respectively as a result of conflicting ideologies in government. Fast forward  70 years, North Korea is now known as one of the most isolated countries in the world ruled by a dictator named Kim Jong-Un.

 In my research essay, I discuss how the present day languages of North Korea and South Korea have become drastically different from one another, despite having been one country 70 years prior. Through various accounts of North Korean defectors in South Korea, it is speculated that only 70 percent of the South Korean language is comprehensible to the average North Korean. The cause of this difference is related to the difference in political, cultural, and social ideologies as a result of Western influence or lack thereof.

Noah Schwartz- “South Africa's 11 Language Problem ”

Professor Marcos Martinez

While on paper South Africa’s constitution mandates that all 11 national languages,  “...must enjoy parity of esteem and must be treated equitably,” in practice the South African government has found the policy hard to implement. English is increasingly used in media and advertising, in education, law, commerce and government. English is the language of the big city especially Johannesburg, South Africa’s financial capital. In order to enable national discourse, socio economic stability, and the equality of opportunity for all South Africans, English education must be consistently implemented from a young age in national school systems. English, however, can not just replace South Africa’s nine other native languages. Over 70% of the population speaks the African “Bantu” languages. To simply call for English or even Afrikaans to replace the Bantu languages would be woefully ignoring the culture the African languages are rooted in, as well as the tribulation the speakers went through under the apartheid system. A dual system of education and preservation of native languages must be provided in order to protect cultures while providing all South Africans the opportunities they deserve.

Adwoa Obeng- “The Language of a Nation”

Professor Marcos Martinez

As the world evolves, Ghana's plan for reformation in the education system continues to separate the people of Ghana. A majority of Ghanaian's have the opportunity to an education, however there are a large number of Ghanaian's that are not fortunate enough to have an education or even further their education. This creates a language barrier due to the country implementing English as the official language of Ghana. The use of English is benefiting yet impacting the people of Ghana, especially Ghana’s education system. Pidgin is an easier way for students to talk to locals although this may seem as a solution, ‚ÄòPidgin‚Äô is affecting the development of students and their education. The analysis of Ghana as a country, and the reform for their education system is vital to understand why and how Pidgin began.

Session 21: Talking (and Researching) About Food

410PM--Ames B117
            Moderator: Wendy Wagner

Sarah Cho- “Childhood Obesity Rates:  An Examination of Nutrition Education Curriculums in K-12 Schools ”

Professor Wade Fletcher

Since the late 1970's, the childhood obesity rate in the United States has more than tripled (5%-18.5%) (Fryar, Caroll, and Ogden, 2014), and is now reaching epidemic levels. Overweight and obesity in childhood are known to have significant impacts on both physical and psychological health as it can lead to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Although nutrition education exists in K-12 schools, it is clear that existing programs are not successful in mitigating the effects of childhood obesity since overall, schools do not devote enough teaching time to nutrition education. Through an examination of successful nutrition curriculum; hand-ons learning, community collaboration, and implementation of policies are components of successful nutrition education programs. When programs are prioritized, students are more likely to make healthy choices. Therefore, it is crucial that governments and educators in the United States realize the importance of nutrition education in order to foster the next generation of healthy individuals.

Anna Tevzadze- “Let’s Talk About Food:  The Social and Economic Implications of Living with Celiac Disease”

Professor Abby Wilkerson

Our ethnographic research addresses the effects of an invisible food disability and the role of food in social settings of first-year college students. As freshmen ourselves, we acknowledge the role food plays in structuring our social lives and recognize the need for equitable access to nutritious and balanced meals. We studied the effects of celiac disease disability on two white heterosexual males from a strong socio-economic background, while also considering the support and roles of the participants’ family, friends, and academic settings. By doing so, we wish to increase awareness about celiac disease, address the social significance of food in society, and explain the role of others in supporting individuals with the condition. We hope that family and friends of those with celiac disease make a greater effort to include them in their settings and we urge food organizations and academic institutions realize to understand the importance of providing easily accessible, appetizing and affordable gluten-free products.

Ethan Barber- “Let’s Talk About Food: The Social and Economic Implications of Living with Celiac Disease”

Professor Abby Wilkerson

Our ethnographic research addresses the effects of an invisible food disability and the role of food in social settings of first-year college students. As freshmen ourselves, we acknowledge the role food plays in structuring our social lives and recognize the need for equitable access to nutritious and balanced meals. We studied the effects of celiac disease disability on two white heterosexual males from a strong socio-economic background, while also considering the support and roles of the participants’ family, friends, and academic settings. By doing so, we wish to increase awareness about celiac disease, address the social significance of food in society, and explain the role of others in supporting individuals with the condition. We hope that family and friends of those with celiac disease make a greater effort to include them in their settings and we urge food organizations and academic institutions realize to understand the importance of providing easily accessible, appetizing and affordable gluten-free products.

Session 22: Identity and Liberty: Considering Shakespeare and Hemphill

410PM--Ames B201
            Moderator: Peter Cohn

Nassem Al-Mehairi- “Aeternae Libertatis: Shakespeare and the Creation of American Liberty”

Professor Rachel Pollack

The assassination of Julius Caesar provided rich literary material for writers and artists as soon as Caesar was memorialized by Marcus Antonius. One work, however, fused history and literature and wove cultural understanding of Rome into modern cultural thought far more than any other: Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The major force behind the play is not the tyrant-not-tyrant Julius Caesar, nor is it Marcus Brutus, descendant of the great republicans, who equivocates between friendship and civic duty. Shakespeare places the great ideal of liberty at the center of the text, not the militaristic and undemocratic libertas but something much closer to modern liberty as immortalized in the United States Constitution. Julius Caesar tells senators that he is as “constant as the northern star.” Shakespeare and the American founders took a far different view, placing liberty, and law derived from it, as the true Polaris. This essay examines how Shakespeare came to create his most political masterpiece, not a play truly of men but of ideas. It will present a nuanced look on the form and shape of liberty Shakespeare weaves through Julius Caesar and the fascinating direct connections between the Bard of Avon and the framers of the American Constitution.

Jurnee Louder- “The Self-Defining Nature of Essex Hemphill”

Professor Sean Pears

This project examines the complex, and often-times contradictory nature of the D.C. based, LGBTQ+ writer Essex Hemphill. His writings prove to be an exploration of how his sexuality and his race place him in a precarious position within the Black, LGBTQ+ and male communities. Ultimately, this project outlines how Hemphill defined his life for himself.

Session 23: Feminist Portraits

410PM--Ames B207
            Moderator: TBA

Willow Hasson- “The Enduring Feminist Messages of Don Quixote”

Professor Marcos Martinez

My research encircles what is widely considered the first modern novel in history: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. This two-part novel is from the seventeenth century, yet includes a feminist social commentary within. The overarching plotline follows an elderly man named Don Quixote whose love of romanticist stories makes him believe that he is a knight who needs to save others from imaginary threats. Don Quixote examines themes of heroism and reality all while revealing hidden ideals of female empowerment. The female characters present are portrayed as strong and independent as they fight the gender roles and toxic characters that bind them. The struggle of these female characters to be seen as equal in society greatly mirrors the main character’s struggle to see clarity and have authority over reality. Despite the countless layers of translations over the centuries, the story has maintained a hidden message that women are strong and self-determining despite the restrictive social norms of Cervantes’ society. Don Quixote contains timeless lessons that represent humanity and encourage society to break the gender roles that are still prevalent today to allow women to embrace their inner strength and therefore grant everyone a more equal and free reality.

Isabella Constantakes- “The Portrait of Anna Maria van Schurman : Capturing a Star”

Professor Rachel Pollack

Anna Maria van Schurman, a name unknown to many of this generation, was a fierce proponent of educational equality for women by becoming “the most educated woman of the 17th century”. It is not surprising that in her depictions of herself, she strives to display those qualities that had been so elusive to women: sincerity of mind and a demand for respect. In her self-portraits, Schurman presents not only her physical attributes, but attributes that she holds in high regard, intellect and commitment to education. She eschewed the conventions of male artists and their depiction of the traditional qualities included in their portraits of women such as beauty, fine clothing, delicate feature, purity and innocence. It is these conventionally feminine qualities, absent in her self-portrayal, are emphasized in portraits by male artists, particularly that done by Cornelius Johnson in 1657. In this piece a version of Anna Maria van Schurman is presented that is, idealized, beautified, youthful, pure, elegant, and dainty. As Johnson’s portrait fails to capture this sense of confidence or fully acknowledge her academic prowess, beyond a list of the subjects she studied, it cannot be accepted as an accurate and authentic portrayal of this great mind.