University Writing & Research Conference Program Spring 2020

Fri, 6 March, 2020 10:00am
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At the spring 2020 event, University Writing (UW 1020) students who have been nominated by a faculty member will share their research and writing experiences with an audience of fellow students, faculty, librarians and friends.


Conference Preparation


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 component 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: Playful Translations: Creating Languages/ Mediating Cultures

10:00 AM--Ames B101
Moderator: Robin Delaloye, Associate Dean of Student Success and Communications GW Libraries & Academic Innovation

Adam Savage- “Doch tchoch dokana: An overview of conlanging and their development”
Professor Martinez

Constructed languages have always fascinated linguists, authors, directors and more - think the Dothraki language from Game of Thrones, Klingon from Star Trek, the Elvish languages of Middle Earth, Na'avi from Avatar. These constructed languages aren't just fun combinations of sounds that seem alien, or foreign. There are many other constructed that serve purpose in real life as well – Esperanto and Interlingua are the most famous examples. There is a complex study of how distinct groups of constructed languages are developed, using linguistic theories to prescribe their phonology, syntax, and in many cases, their etymologies. My research provides an overview of these theories and groups, as well as giving suggestions for developing one's own constructed language

Jennifer Le- “I Need U': Why Fan Translators Exist in the BTS Fandom”
Professor Larsen

My project explores the relationship between entertainment companies and fans, specifically the dynamic between K-pop group BTS' company BigHit Entertainment and fan translators (fans who translate artists’ content without compensation). This article discusses fan translation and its role within the BTS fandom. Using theories on culture and labor, I argue that fan translators are needed by fans as cultural mediators and by companies as free laborers. Fan translators facilitate cross-cultural conversations between BTS and their fans, allowing both parties to understand each other despite language barriers. However, exploited and taken for granted, fan translators also classify as free laborers because they act to fulfill consumer desire sparked by a lack of official translations from BigHit Entertainment.

Session 2: Fomenting Division: Leaders' Communication in Times of Political Tension

10:00 AM--Ames B117
Moderator: Mary Buckley, Director EJS Women's Leadership Program, Associate Professor, Dance

Caleb Trantham- “Influences, Foreign and Domestic: President Cloyd Heck Marvin and the Relationship of the George Washington University to the Anti-War Strikes of 1937”
Professor Troutman

In this essay, I seek to develop a better sense of why there was such a fervent debate on the campus of the George Washington University over American involvement in a potential European war to come. This research constitutes an analysis of the strikes of April 1937, the correspondence of former President Cloyd Heck Marvin with his academic peers and the press on this subject, the memos of the Comptroller’s office and the Board of Trustees Minutes, as well as the visits of and interactions with German academics and professors of Nazi Germany. This paper concludes that based on the actions and attitudes of President Marvin and the absence of meaningful financial contributions from foreign agents that his actions were his own.

Celeste Kirby- “Climate Policy Communication: Frames, Forums, and Friendly Faces”
Professor Jacoby

For my research, I analyzed the impacts of framing, medium, and source on how climate action policy proposals are received among different political groups. In particular, I focused on communications of the Green New Deal and political polarization. As an exhibit source, I analyzed the YouTube video" A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez," created by The Intercept and Naomi Klein. By examining the ways in which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez frames and communicates the Green New Deal and the reception of said communication, I drew conclusions regarding the importance of depolarizing climate policy discussions through reframing and the careful selection of forum and communicator.

Session 3: Governing Citizen Perception: Tools for Generating Mindful Civic Discourse

10:00 AM--Ames B207
Moderator: Leila Kramer, Learning Specialist, Disability Support Services

Amy Ozinsky- “Economics vs Morality; Fostering Support for Climate Policy Through Framing”
Professor Jacoby

While the Green New Deal, authored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, provides a comprehensive framework for an environmentally driven economic transition of the United States, implementation of effective climate policy is prevented by the increasingly polarized state of U.S. politics. Scientists overwhelmingly agree that human caused climate change is occurring and provide estimates of fewer years before reaching irreversible damage, yet legislation remains absent due to partisan politics. While past research offers framing as a tool for overcoming polarized battles in the legislature, the frames most often cited as beneficial, such as the economic frame, have shown little effect. Combining framing theory with consideration for how people with differing ideologies value morality, this research provides a prospect for a new approach to climate policy. Contrary to the easily disputable economic frame, utilizing moral frames targeted towards specific audiences allows for greater hope for bipartisan policy support. This research argues that the authors of the Green New Deal use rhetorical tools within their resolution that follow what is to be expected of liberal communicators. Additionally, this paper addresses how the language within the bill may be improved through morality framing with the hopes of fostering broader support.

Vincent Patierno- “Battle of the Tribes: Study of Metacognition as Explanation for Media Selection Patterns and Political Polarization in the United States”
Professor Wolfe

In an age of information overload, there is a notable lack of exploration with regard to American’s news consumption habits across traditional and social media platforms. Moreover, the psychological effects on perception via these mediums in the twenty-first century as they pertain to political polarization remain largely unknown. This body of research aims to bridge the gaps that currently exist between citizens and the influence that news-media holds concerning perception of political, current, and governmental affairs—as well as suggested methodology to potentially remedy these faults. Compared with existing bodies of research, this topic is virtually undiscovered. Integrated with the application of cognitive and psychological theories tied to media consumption habits and opinion formation, this paper will tour the interstice between existing studies and attempt to unearth new connections between psychology, metacognition, and political self-efficacy that may lay the much needed foundation for mindful civil discourse.

Session 4: Sex and the State: How Policies Impact Sexual Education and the Body

11:30--Ames B101
Moderator: Kean T. McDermott, Instructional Technologist for GIS & Data Visualization, GW Libraries and Academic Innovation

Hannah Shaby- “Safety First: Sex Education in Mississippi”
Professor Schell

This paper focuses on a variety of ways to tackle a problem facing many public schools in the US: a substandard sex education curriculum. Mississippi is one state with a sex education model that is not required to provide students with basic information about pregnancy, or HIV/STI transmission. This project asked us to examine the policy of a particular state and propose a variety of solutions that addressed the problem from different angles. These policies were then evaluated for cost, feasibility, popularity, and other factors that could have impacted the implementation of the hypothetical policy. This paper advocates for a sex education curriculum that makes sure students have access to information they need.

Kylie Henry- “Anti-Female Gential Mutilation Efforts in Phantom States: Somaliland Case Study”
Professor Barlow

Although Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991, the international community recognizes the territory as part of the Federal Republic of Somalia (Kaplan, 2008). States without “external sovereignty” cannot receive foreign aid. For Somaliland, the territory that holds the highest rate of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the world (99% of girls undergo the procedure), this has two major implications (28 Too Many, 2018). From a broad perspective, inability to access aid results in a fragile government that struggles to provide its population with essential social services, such as rule of law or public education. Legal protections and education are important in tackling FGM (WHO, 2011). More specifically, Somaliland’s government cannot receive international aid designated for anti-FGM efforts. Aid sent to governments of developing countries to launch community-based anti-FGM programs is vital to promoting successful interventions, but this approach is not available for Somaliland. This research aims to strengthen the connection between Somaliland’s phantom state status and the government’s inability to combat its high rate of FGM. Evaluation of the policies held by leading international organizations will provide further insight on the specific rules or norms that prohibit Somaliland, and other phantom states, from accessing humanitarian foreign aid.

Session 5: Translating Emotions in Poetry and Film

11:30--Ames B109
Moderator: Sandie Friedman, Deputy Director, University Writing Center, Assistant Professor, University Writing Program

Kors Li- “Discussing Translation —— Analysis of Chinese traditional Poem ‘Shall I Compare Thee to an April Spring’”
Professor Martinez

In this essay, I examine the process of translation, especially from a translator perspective, by using the interpretations of the traditional poem “Shall I Compare Thee to the April Spring” as examples. I individually examine the translation by analyzing three well-known translation versions of the selected poem, discussing the translation consideration, deliberating the methodologies of translating, and exploring the present translation climate in China.

Riley Burke- “Christmas Amnesia: Love Actually and the Strategic Use of Holiday Themed Nostalgia”
Professor Smith

This paper looks at the strategic use of Christmas themed nostalgia in the film Love Actually (2003). I argue that the viewers emotional attachment to Christmas is used as a strategic tool of nostalgia that distracts the viewer from the problematic and even sexist tendencies of the film. This distraction has caused a collective erasing of these questionable aspects, perpetuating its influence and status as a beloved holiday classic.

Session 6: Parental Influences on Child Developmental: Education and Racial Identification

11:30--Ames B207
Moderator: Elizabeth Chacko, Associate Provost, Special Programs and the Mount Vernon Academic Experience, Professor of Geography and International Affairs

Casey Gilmartin- “The Importance of Parental Influence on a Child’s Mathematical Understanding”
Professor Abrams

From the time a child is born to the time that they begin to receive primary education, the parents are responsible to take care of that child both physically and mentally; consequently, parents often establish some educational groundwork for their children that develops their brain in preparation for schooling. An inadequacy in this educational groundwork can lead to “different levels of readiness” among children in primary schools, with some experiencing an “inability to write numbers, difficulties in counting on fingers” and even simply issues with “identifying numbers” (Güven and Çolak 2019). Based on these findings, it is plausible that these foundational struggles may carry over into the latter years of a student’s education. Parents can improve their child’s math literacy and understanding through the regular exposure of “practical applications of math at home” in order for the child to “develop mathematical reasoning on their own” (Kormanik 2012). Therefore, parental influence on their child’s mathematical understanding is essential and can be facilitated through the implementation of educational practices, both implicitly and explicitly mathematical, in the home and before they enter their primary level of education.

Lily Kirschner- “The Implications of Racial Socialization Patterns for Transracial Adoptees”
Professor Quave

This review explores the most common racial socialization patterns utilized by the parents of transracial adoptees and their effects on mental health. The racial socialization of people of color begins early on in an individual’s life through the observations, experiences, and stories they hear and first handedly experience. In same-race households where one or more of the parents share the same race as the child, the parent can share their own experience with encountering racial bias and more easily prepare the child for navigating a racialized society. However, this is not the case for transracial adoptees whose parents are often white and do not share the same race as them. White parents of transracial adoptees often fall on a spectrum between holding race-conscious and color-blind perspectives, avoiding uncomfortable conversations about race and choosing to what extent their child is racially socialized. Because having an understanding of one’s race is an essential part of the identity and development of any person of color, there are effects on the mental health of adoptees whose racial socialization was minimal.

Session 7: Eugenics in 2020?: New Tools / Old Divides in Science and Healthcare

1:00 PM--Ames B101
Moderator: Karen Johnson, Academic Advisor, College of Arts and Sciences

Julia Sauriol- “The Eugenic Implications of the Modern Healthcare System: An Analysis of Current Barriers and Discrepancies”
Professor McReynolds

Historically, eugenics was a science focused on creating the “superior” race of humans. Under their definition, this population would consist of rich, white, abled, educated individuals. While eugenics may no longer be actively practiced within the United States today, the current healthcare system perpetuates prejudices that may ultimately result in the eugenic goal. Within the modern system, there are major disparities in the quality and access to care received by certain groups, especially between those in different socioeconomic statuses. Lower education levels, lower income, and fewer occupational opportunities all affect individual health, and can cause poor health outcomes. Access barriers such as the high cost of care and insurance, language issues, and transportation challenges further cause discrepancies between different groups within the population. By identifying the disparities and assessing the specific subpopulations that are affected more by these barriers, it can be found that minority groups and individuals of a lower socioeconomic status are disproportionately affected. When evaluated through a eugenic lens, it becomes evident that the populations that struggle within the current healthcare system were those intentionally targeted by the eugenists. These observable discrepencies reflect a history of discrimination against certain groups, which is unacceptable in today’s day and age.

Shawky Nabil Darwish- “Science: America's newest white man's club”
Professor Stearns

Ineffective methods of science communication have, specifically across diverse audiences, created disparate impacts of not only knowledge of scientific topics, but have ultimately stripped communities of different socioeconomic, racial, and gender backgrounds from accessing scientific discourse at a fundamental level. This study explores how different aspects of contemporary science communication, including representation, style, and the background of the communicator themselves, have lent themselves to a degradation of science communication, and thusly will give science communicators a new grounds of knowledge to enhance their techniques. This will also address this host of problems facing effective communication through presenting experimental evidence to how this phenomena of science exclusion effects minority communities.

The privatization of scientific topics to a largely white, male class can be analyzed on two fronts: large-scale expositions to archetypes of scientists in popular media, and direct engagement with specific science communities through journals, articles, and panels. Both fronts have contributed to the creation and subsequent continual reifications of stereotypes around exactly who scientists are, intrinsically mandating who could enter scientific dialogue. Thus, any recommendation to address the pervasiveness of structural whiteness in the science community must also acknowledge the influence of popular media in science engagement.

Session 8: Law Enforcement in Contemporary America: Issues, Policies, Divides

1:00 PM--Ames B109
Moderator: Jameta Barlow, Assistant Professor of Writing, University Writing Program

Michael Graham-Green- “American Policing and the Rhetoric of President Donald J. Trump”
Professor Pliskin

How did Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign gain the support of major law enforcement organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, despite the consistent controversy around the candidate in the policing community? Why did Trump’s rhetoric appeal to many American police officers, but lead concerned police agencies to distance themselves from him? This essay explores the political implications of police culture in America, and how other societal factors like the Black Lives Matter movement and the 2016 election’s focus on immigration policy drove members of America’s law enforcement to support Donald Trump on his way to the White House.

Prajna Naidoo- “Policy Brief: Florida Public School Gun Violence”
Professor Schell

The purpose of this brief is to persuade Florida state legislators to enact on proposals to end school gun violence. Since the Parkland shooting, the state was pressured to enact a higher minimum age for buying firearms, extreme risk protection order law, and stronger waiting periods in order to legally obtain guns which greatly improved state gun laws. Nevertheless, most school shootings are perpetrated by students themselves who, despite the state’s barriers to legal arm access, are able to obtain firearms from legal gun-owning households. The repercussions for legal gun owners who allowed a minor access to their firearms are currently only applied if the minor is under the age of 16 and gun owners do not have enough legal incentive to practice safe firearm storage. Therefore, a policy recommendation to discourage the initial motives of a school shooter and identify warning signs of anticipated gun violence is more effective. Florida passed the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 that provides grants to schools for threat assessment programs and modern security measures. Refining these programs requires that more counselors are employed to adequately assess a large number of students. This preventative step is more effective than the state’s Guardian program that allows teachers to carry guns in school that elicits more fear among students. The recommendation is also more cost-effective than access control measures as it promotes nurturing, nonviolent environments.

Session 9: Female Empowerment in Instagram & The American Rom-Com

1:00 PM--Ames B117
Moderator: Julie Donovan, Women's Leadership Program Faculty, Associate Professor, University Writing Program

Grace Bartolotti- ““Living out your passion project”: Diminishing the “Third Place” through Entrepreneurial Femininity" 
Professor Myers

By looking at the Instagram account @ESM.Creative, a female graphic designer, I evaluated Instagram’s effect on the “third place.”

Instagram users are shifting toward online networking. They are using Instagram as a place to establish their brand’s identity instead of their personal identity. Thus, these graphic designers are employing “entrepreneurial femininity” in which users create a carefully curated set of images that promote women empowerment through pro-girl rhetoric. Through this curation, they monetize their so-called “passion projects.”

This shift in Instagram use has taught consumers that we must be wary, as we now need to differentiate between accounts that will serve as platforms for social interaction and connectivity versus places of networking and sharing for career purposes. This change is not necessarily a bad thing, as it gives the average person the ability to monetize something that they are passionate about and employ entrepreneurial and creative skills.

Sarah Teague- “The Anti Formulaic Take on the Traditional Romantic Comedy Plot in Someone Great”
Professor Smith

In this paper, I will analyze the traditional formula of a romantic comedy film and compare it to the plot structure of the film Someone Great (2019), directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson. Through its main plot line that follows the bond of three women and their respective lives in the present day, Someone Great contradicts the traditional romantic comedy formula to highlight a much less publicized perspective of love: the love in friendship. This article examines how the plot allows for character development of the supporting characters and beyond that creates positive female relationships that stress the empowerment of women. Finally, I will look at the overall influence this female-centered film has on the audience in empowering young women.

Session 10: Buyer Beware!

1:00 PM--Ames B201
Moderator: Morgan Stoddard, Director of Research Services, George Washington University Libraries & Academic Innovation

Jasmine Slusser- “The Craft of Consumption : How Target Is Exploiting the Terms “Hand Made” and “Craft” to Better Appeal to Consumers”
Professor Myers

This project first seeks to confront what qualities are uniquely characteristic to craft and differentiate crafted items from manufactured “craft” products. Also, as the analysis of this paper revolves around the specific Target product line called “Hand Made Modern,” this project also inquires into the differences between art and craft (specifically as Do-It-Yourself). After establishing what constitutes a craft, the objective of the article becomes the study of how several corporations, such as Target, exploit the tendencies of consumers to buy in relation to an identity by employing narrative marketing, subliminal messaging, and positive association in the context of items described as “crafted” or as “handmade.” Ultimately, this project studies Target’s product line Hand Made Modern to analyze the glamorization and rhetoric mythology of craft, and the resulting economic commodity chain, to observe the rise of commercialization, and the misuse of craft and craft terms.

Olivia Finizio- “How do we grocery shop? Exploring the relationship between the consumer and genetically modified foods”
Professor Stearns

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have permeated the everyday lives of most Americans, whether they realize it or not. Over the past twenty years, the use of GMOs has skyrocketed in popularity among manufacturers, and today, the public view on them is more polarized than ever. The plethora of means of education on this technology has created plenty of room for misinformation or lack of knowledge in general. This project explores previous research done on the topic of GMOs to find a reason for its controversy, and to see how communication can be improved to diminish the false information circulating the internet today. An original study is also conducted to see how views on GMOs differ based on consumer behavior and source of information.

Session 11: Memory & Meaning in Understanding Mathematics & Photojournalism

1:00 PM--Ames B205
Moderator: Deborah Bezanson, Senior Librarian for the Sciences, Engineering & Assessment, George Washington University Libraries

Bassem Rafiq- “The analysis of effective memory mechanisms in mathematics”
Professor Abrams

The realm of mathematics revolves around finding solutions to problems and proving how the natural world functions in a quantitative sense. Typically, through pure memorization, classrooms teach how to deduce these answers. However, the question remains: what is the best method for “memorizing” mathematics? To answer this, psychological terminology must also be applied to the learning process. In order to determine the best form of memory, psychological definitions of long-term memory (LTM), short-term memory (STM), and working memory (WM) must be assessed. Although all three forms are pivotal in the learning of mathematics, studies ultimately show that working memory is the most effective due to the fact that it is the only memory that uses fluid reasoning.

Tessa Beazley- “A Photographic Memory”
Professor Mantler

The project is about the Pulitzer Prize Photography Gallery. It takes the stance that the gallery gives photography the place it deserves both in journalism and in history. However, the nature of the Pulitzer, the exhibit’s location in the Newseum, and the lack of consideration the gallery gives to ethics, portrays photojournalists as blameless American heroes, when it reality, it is much more complicated than that.

Session 12: "Mad" Heroines: From Ophelia to Rachel Chu

1:00 PM--Ames B207
Moderator: Dawn deVillasana, Interim Manager, Eckles Library
Connor Christopher- “Misogyny, Madness, and Mistreatment: An Exploration into Ophelia’s Overlooked Complexity and Her Representation of Gender Inequality”

Professor Pollack

Throughout Hamlet, arguably one of the most renowned and celebrated plays in the English language, William Shakespeare’s Ophelia is a character who most readers view as merely a minor character, used solely as a tool to support Hamlet and highlight his own complexities. As a woman who is effectively silenced and objectified by the majority of the play’s male character’s, Ophelia’s significance in both Hamlet and Renaissance society at large, too, is often ignored, greatly diminishing the depth of the Bard’s brilliant piece of literature. Thus, this essay aims to explore the intricate nature of Ophelia’s own character, examine her importance in the scope of the tragedy, and analyze how she serves as a representation for the mistreatment of women during the life of Shakespeare. Beginning with a brief history of the Renaissance’s strong presence of gender inequality, the essay then explores how Ophelia fits into this misogynistic society, discusses her own gender-driven injustices, illustrates her relation to the emergence of female madness and high rates of mental illness among women, and reveals her connection feminism. All of these facets of Ophelia’s character and purpose and highlighted through the use of numerous objects, pieces of art, and the play itself.

Taylor Rowe- “Princess Charming: An Analysis of Rachel Chu as a Modern Class-Clash Heroine”
Professor Smith

In this paper, I analyze the character of Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) from Crazy Rich Asians (2018) as a counter to the archetype of the typical class-clash heroine, as Rachel is outwardly proud of her first-generation Asian-American, working-class heritage even in the face of judgment from her fiancé’s family. This goes against the archetypal class-narrative storyline in which the heroine hides her identity in order to find love, highlighting that a woman can be herself and still get her “happily ever after.” Through examining the traditional definition of a class-clash narrative as well as the definition of “modern women” in black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) chick-lit, the paper argues that Rachel is a character representative of an updated romance movie heroine through scene analyses. I focus on scenes that provide evidence of Rachel’s position as this modern woman via the relationships between Rachel and Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh), her possible mother-in-law, Rachel and Nick Young (Henry Golding), her almost-fiancé, as well as Rachel’s relationship with herself. Overall, with the release of many more female-driven, diverse films, such as Crazy Rich Asians, Hollywood can continue to change the culture of representation for complex female characters and discuss issues of class in a new, modern way for an evolving media landscape.

Session 13: Stereotyping Minorities in White America

02:30--Ames B101
Moderator: Shira Eller, Art and Design Librarian, Gelman Library

Alfred Taylor- “Rap and Race: A Quantitative Analysis of Rap’s Effect on White America and Race Relations”
Professor Quave

The Box by Roddy Rich, Old Town Road by Lil Nas X, Sicko Mode by Drake, are songs that have displayed profound impact on the current generation. The bubblegum tunes of past pop have interestingly enough been replaced by rawer Trap and Rap Music. As one may expect, this was not always the case. In the 1960s the dominating genre was Rock and Roll, specifically the British invasion. In the 70’s it was Motown. In the 80’s it was glam rock. In the 90’s it was Grunge. In the 2000’s it was Contemporary R&B, and now for the first time ever, R&B/hip-hop has surpassed rock to become the biggest music genre in the U.S. in terms of total consumption, according to Nielsen Music. But the emergence of rap as music’s biggest genre has created an even more convoluted racial picture. Can White America truly be racist while using an African American dominated art as its cultural basis? Surely this influx of rap must reap some societal benefits? Or, does this influx lead to negative consequences? This will be further explored in this paper as I have hypothesized that this influx actually displays adverse effects as it pertains to race relations.

Perry Santos- “Crazy Rich Pervasion: The Impact of the Model Minority Stereotype”
Professor Smith

Although Crazy Rich Asians was praised critically for being the first modern film with an all-Asian principal cast and an Asian-American lead in 25 years, the debate surrounding questions of authenticity and its unrepresentative portrayal of stereotypes remains mixed among critics and industry scholars alike. While the film attempts to reconfigure the romantic comedy formula to an Asian narrative, Crazy Rich Asians remains principally regressive in its representation of Asian identities through its emphasis on model minority stereotypes. Through an analysis of Nick Young’s (Henry Golding) unbridled wealth, Rachel Chu’s (Constance Wu) success in academia, and the feuding disparities between their two families, it is made clear that the film remains unrepresentative of the Asian plight and the wide spectrum of Asian identities present in a 21st-century audience. According to the Model Minority Thesis, Asian Americans are too successful to be considered a disadvantaged minority group. Such stereotypes prevent Asian Americans from receiving access to important resources and services provided to other minority groups. While representation should be celebrated, by excluding Asians and Asian Americans from conversations regarding equity and inclusion, they are still trapped under the very same glass ceiling films such as Crazy Rich Asians attempt to break.

Session 14: GW's History of Gender & Gay Discrimination

02:30--Ames B109
Moderator: Simon Bird, Assistant Director, Undergraduate Academic Advising, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Mallory Durkin- “Gay Representation and Perception during the AIDS Crisis at the George Washington University”
Professor Troutman

During the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 90s, how did the views and treatment of gay students at the George Washington University vary? Were students comfortable enough to be open with their sexual identities? Using the George Washington University’s archival records of student publications including its newspaper the Hatchet and yearbook the Cherry Tree, this paper explores the variety of opinions and attitudes surrounding gay issues during the AIDS epidemic at GW. There are documented cases of outward, dangerous homophobia, however, overall GW fostered a generally liberal, welcoming environment and sought to educate those about AIDS to limit targeted discrimination and protest homophobia. With student testimonials from openly gay students on campus, records of Gay Awareness Weeks and speakers coming to dispel myths about AIDS, it is clear to see that GW’s gay community has been resilient, present, and represented for over forty years.

Megan Suehring- “Athletic Representation at George Washington University”
Professor Troutman

George Washington University does not have equal representation between men's and women's athletics in the Cherry Tree yearbook. This is concluded through graphical data collected from the yearbook and though interpretation of the yearbook and the patterns throughout it. The paper concludes with a tie in to present day and highlights problems in today's society with representation in sports, both at George Washington University and in the world of sports.

Session 15: Inequalities in the American Education System

02:30--Ames B117
Moderator: Moses Schanfield, Professor of Forensic Science and Anthropology, Department of Forensic Science

Benjamin M Levinson- “The Intent, Legacy, and Promise of Brown vs. Board of Education”
Professor Wolfe

Brown vs. Board of Education is often referenced in conversations around educational inequity in the United States, but a fundamental lack of understanding about the case is pervasive. The cultural myths perpetuated about Brown vs. Board of Education have influenced the public's understanding of how race and education intersection, which in turn affects policy decisions. Generations and generations of research about educational best practices has led to an unsatisfactory current situation. In this paper, I attempt to understand and share the history of Brown vs. Board of Education, the reality of educational inequity today, and how the two are related. Furthermore, I suggest how we might move forward in ameliorating our educational system in a way that is congruent with the values of Brown vs. Board of Education.

Jake Schwartz (written with Maddie Sykes, & Jake Topolosky)- “The Challenges Students with Neurological Disabilities Face While Trying to Receive Accommodations in the Educational System”
Professor Wilkerson

Inside our ethnography, Reading Between the Lines, we interviewed three young adults ranging from 14 to 21 years old. All three participants were diagnosed with a neurological disability that affected their general wellbeing and their day-to-day lives. Although each participant’s specific condition differed, the three subjects shared many similarities. Ben has dysphonetic dyslexia, a type of learning disability where an individual has trouble articulating spoken language. Ananya was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a disability in which an individual has trouble focusing. Additionally, Mitchell was diagnosed with autism, and is considered high-functioning on the autism spectrum. Each of them shared the experience of obtaining and utilizing accommodations throughout their educational experiences. Notably, Mitchell, Ben, and Ananya came from financially secure families, allowing each of them to have access to high-quality education, resources, and accommodations.

Our new research question asks: What are the challenges students with neurological disabilities face while trying to receive accommodations in the educational system? This question helps to illustrate the dynamics of accommodations for both the students who receive them and those who regulate them. Based on our research we can better understand the social aspects that are prevalent throughout the process of receiving accommodations for those with neurological disabilities. There is a myriad of different education lenses that affect individuals with neurological disabilities and their access to quality accommodations. These social components intersect to create certain complexities within each disability experience.

Session 16: Contextualizing "The Other" in Western News Media & Tourism

02:30--Ames B201

Moderator: Bethany Cobb King, Director of the Honors Program, Associate Professor of Honors and Physics


Brooks B Rupar- “Vice Media’s Coverage of Middle Eastern Affairs: An Analysis of ‘Alternative’ News Media and its Relationship with Neo-Orientalism”
Professor Fletcher

This article attempts to analyze and contextualize Vice as an outlet, along with relating it to contemporary media theories. I use the theories of (Neo)Orientalism, agenda-setting, and media framing in order to fully understand Vice’s commentary on modern crises in the Middle East through their most popular videos in the area. Vice created a number of extremely popular videos set in the Middle East, but through this article I see that, although they cover something unique, and have an ‘honest’ way of approaching it, Vice ultimately still perpetuates framing the Middle East as a lawless and violent area, wrought with ‘terrorists’ that only Western forces can adequately fight. They create a spectacle of violence for largely inactive western audiences. This article identifies the problematic manner in which Vice documents Middle Eastern affairs, but this research paper does not aim to find a solution for the Orientalist manner in which Vice covers the Middle East.

Ella Stern- “The Tourism Industry as a Perpetuation of the Legacies of Apartheid in South Africa”
Professor Kristensen

My project examined the ongoing complexities of race relations in South Africa through the tourism industry and argued that tourism is a prime example of the continued, entrenched legacy of apartheid. I considered several informative examples to prove my thesis. First, I provided background on how tourism in South Africa is executed - both at the hands of the black majority in South Africa and in operation by the white minority. I looked at major examples of how tourism has helped and harmed South Africa as a whole such as the Fifa World Cup of 2010. Finally, I considered throughout my essay the influence of existing power dynamics and hierarchies on South Africa in its transition to a democratic nation as well as argue for institutional change and black empowerment in the tourism industry to in turn benefit the entirety of South Africa and its habitats - both white and black - as a whole.

Session 17: Manufacturing Identity, Nationalism and Globalization

02:30--Ames B205
Moderator: Peter Cohn, Director of Research Services, The George Washington University Libraries

Hannah Jackson- “Development Redefined and the Need For a Radical Break With International Capitalism”
Professor Kristensen

The International community has been operating under a façade of global governance and cooperation through the process of globalization. Yet, the globalization we know of today is none other than a modernized and reformed process of colonization, imperialism, jingoism, and slavery—all of which are derivatives of Western capitalism. World historians and political scientists have simply termed such processes as ‘globalization’ to not only mitigate the malignance of such constructs and appease Western ideologies, but ultimately pursue interests that once again exploit nations economically, politically, and socially. International capitalism has pulverized the economic, social, and political prowess of Senegal through a neoliberal approach to development that defines progress through a lens of privatization. This paper argues that the proliferation of neoliberal and capitalist approaches to development, at the onset of globalization, by international organizations, institutions, non-governmental organizations, and multilateral corporations have played a detrimental and convoluted role in the autonomous development of Senegal. Furthermore, it examines the contributions of such organizations through the influences of social, economic, and political factors. Senegal is an example of how the emergence of global governance has resulted in stagnant and at times stalemate progress and the following argument will be evaluated under the premise that “underdevelopment” can be attributed to colonial and post-colonial structures such as neoliberalism, capitalism, and globalization.


Indigo Stegner- “Linguistic Nationalism and Conflict in Spain”
Professor Martinez

This paper examines the connections between linguistic identity and national identity in Spain, and the degree to which they influence each other. Linguistic conflict has been an evident trend in the nation’s history. Consequently, it has shaped citizens’ logic on how one chooses to identify (with their national or regional identity), their linguistic preferences (use of the regional language versus the national language, Castilian), and the relationship that autonomous communities have with the national government. This is especially relevant in the recent wake of separatist and nationalist movements in Europe, including Brexit, the Catalonian independence movement, and the rise of nationalist political parties across the continent. In order to examine such connections, three major themes will be discussed: the Castilianization process over the course of Spanish history; variations in the use and prestige of Catalan, Galician, and Euskara; and the strength of counter-nationalist movements in Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque region.

Session 18: Institutions, Transparency and the Greater Good

4:10 PM--Ames B101
Moderator: Danika Myers, Director of First Year Writing, University Writing Program Faculty

Denton Silfvast- “At Odds: What Role Does the United States Government Play in War Reporting?”
Professor Friedman

War reporting, like other fields of journalism can often result in confrontation between the reporters and those being reported on. However, unlike other fields of journalism those being reported on (the government and military) are allowed to write the rulebook for how said reporting is to be conducted. In this paper, I examine war reporting through the lense of activity theory, breaking the process down into an activity system. Then, I consider how the government has used its position as a subject within the activity system to manipulate the press and pressure reporters to write in the interest of the government as opposed to the interest of the press. Ultimately, it is clear that compromise between the two sides is difficult, but nonetheless possible.

John Ciccantell- “Trade Secrets: How the Corporate Agenda Corrupts Contemporary Environmental Discour”
Professor Tomlinson

Environmental discourse is responsible for the ways in which we think, communicate, and act with regards to the environment. Due to social constructionism, it holds a tremendous amount of power over our thoughts and actions. As such, a variety of actors seek to influence environmental discourse, especially corporations. Corporations have a vested influence in ensuring that environmental discourse produces actions which are not harmful to their objectives of growth and profit. In order to accomplish this, they employ a variety of techniques to corrupt and co-opt environmental ideas. These techniques include promoting the frameworks of consumer responsibility and capitalistic agency as methods of achieving sustainability. They do so in such a way that the average consumer does not realize that their ideas about sustainability are designed to prevent changes to the structures which simultaneously propagate environmental degradation and increase corporate profits. Due to its insidious nature, corporate influence on environmental and sustainability discourse is worthy of much closer consideration. This essay examines several exhibits in order to understand how and why corporations construct their environmental messaging, and why it is or is not effective.

Session 19: Why Equitable Access and Primary Prevention of Public Health Conditions are Effective

4:10 PM--Ames B109
Moderator: Ann James, Data Services Librarian, The George Washington University Libraries

Gabriella Hattari- “Society’s Role in Implementing Equitable Disability Access”
Professor Wilkerson

The previous ethnographic research, The Academic Experience of American and Moroccan Students Impaired with Paraplegia: How Equitable Disability Access Affect Academic Success, explored on how educational institutions in the United States and Morocco provide sufficient access to those who are impaired with paraplegia. Paraplegia is the paralysis of the lower body which is frequently caused by injuries to the spinal cord or diseases. This ties down to the central issue of providing educational equity for students all over the world, particularly towards disabled students by equipping them with special accommodation and resources which complements the concept of an equal playing field with other able-bodied students. My research was done through qualitative methodology where two college students with paraplegia in the United States and Morocco are interviewed regarding their experiences and personal struggles with the disability access given in their educational institutions. Through an intersectional lens, my partner and I also examined our participant’s experiences taking into consideration their race, their socio-economic status, and the disability laws in accordance with their specific area. Overall, this leads to my new research question: how can society, aside from educational institutions, implement equitable access towards physically disabled people?


Jonny Phan- “HIV Prevention over HIV Tertiary Care: A Discussion Whether to Prioritize Prevention or Treatment & Care Interventions”
Professor Fletcher

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention has maintained as an effective response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, although it has often been overshadowed by HIV treatment and care as a priority under most HIV/AIDS programs. Domestic care/treatment and prevention of HIV are both equally as important in order to control the number of new and existing HIV cases that occur every year. A report displaying budget categories from the U.S federal funding for HIV/AIDS however, shows significantly more funding being invested towards domestic care and treatment than domestic prevention. Academic literature relating to HIV research has also shown to be more predominant with studies that focus on care and treatment than prevention. Due to these discrepancies, this research paper evaluates the cost-effective analyses between treatment and prevention care of HIV interventions. After searching for published literature from PubMed, NCBI, Journals.lww, Econlit, and Google Scholar, raw costs and net savings from health interventions were compared with one another. Most results showed HIV preventive interventions to be highly cost-effective compared to HIV treatment, although often lacked a number of identical studies that could provide similar results in order to reduce the margin of error of these studies’ hypotheses. Overall, despite the limitation however, this paper makes a strong claim that HIV prevention should be more prioritized than the existing focus on trying to optimize care and treatment of HIV because there exists such a wide difference in funding allocated between HIV prevention (3%) and HIV care and treatment (62%) according to the U.S federal funding for HIV/AIDS—which mobilizes most of the global HIV funding. Furthermore, research has shown HIV prevention investments to greatly reduce the number of new infections every year.

Logan Earnest- “Communication of Obesity-related Health Risks and Treatments: A Study”
Professor Stearns

Despite recent progress in both medical and public understanding of the causes and treatments for unhealthy weight and its associated health risks, the prevalence of obesity and overweightness in the American population continues to rise. Many in the field of Science Communication have theorized that this is due to a breakdown in medical-public communication. In order to determine if this is a valid source of the problem, three distinct programs were analyzed for their methods of communication and their success at improving the health of those involved in the program. It was found that some communication methods are indeed better than others, and those superior methods are often underrepresented in the field of weight-related Science Communication.

Session 20: Illness, Death and Maidenhood as Muse: Representation of Women in Art

4:10 PM--Ames B201
Moderator: Rachel Pollack, Adjunct Instructor of Writing

Heather Herbstritt- “An Analysis of Rembrandt’s Psychological State After the Death of Saskia (Rembrant's Wife) and how this Personal Hardship Informed his Creation of The Three Trees”
Professor Pollack

Rembrandt’s etching, The Three Trees, at The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C, has been interpreted as a landscape painting, a religious work, and a symbol of Dutch youth courting culture. Through analyzing previous academic papers and primary sources, carefully recreating this work, and close in person visual analysis of the print, a new interpretation is proposed. Rembrandt's subject matter and artistic process in The Three Trees is incredibly personal. The loss of his beloved wife Saskia informed his creation of The Three Trees and the print can be used as a foil for understanding the artist’s psychological state after the death of Saskia.

Katie Capristo- “Vrel and Hidden Symbolism: How "Young Woman in an Interior" Questions the Roles of Maidenhood in the 7th Century”
Professor Pollack

"Vrel and Hidden Symbolism" examines "Young Woman in an Interior", a painting on display in the National Gallery of Art by the mysterious Dutch artist Jacobus Vrel in the 17th century. Though not much is known about both Vrel and his masterpiece, his work gives peculiar insight into the attitudes toward sickly women throughout the Dutch “Golden Age” of art and learning. This paper discusses the ways that illness in women was represented in European Dutch art and how medical science at the time reflected a woman’s marital status, as uterine hysteria was the main diagnosis in sickly maidens. Vrel’s poignant uses of symbolism within the painting convey messages about these supposed phenomenons, showing how an otherwise inconspicuous work holds many discoverable truths about its era outside of the canvas. From a work such as Vrel’s among others of its time, today’s audiences can examine how attitudes towards women’s health and medical prognoses have evolved.

Session 21: Examining Religion and Our Futures

4:10 PM--Ames B205
Moderator: Gordon Mantler, Executive Director, University Writing Program, Associate Professor of Writing and of History

Alex Brandis- “He Boiled For Your Sins: How Pastafarianism Revived the Question of Church and State”
Professor Tomlinson

In 2005, Bobby Henderson created a satirical religion in an Open Letter to the Kansas School Board called Pastafarianism. The religion took off and came in front of the Nebraska District Court in 2016 in the case Cavanaugh v. Bartelt where plaintiff Stephen Cavanaugh sued prison officials for not accommodating his religion: Pastafarianism. The court ruled that the religion was not a true religion and is a satire instead. However, due to the first amendment, the government cannot make rulings on what is and what is not a religion because religion is a deeply personal experience; one person’s perception of religion does not equal the way a person believes in the religion. Therefore the government cannot decide if someone’s beliefs are a true religion or not. The quintessential factor is the argument of intention versus reception. The intention of religion may be drastically different from the reception it receives, but the reception of the religion is what the court must consider in its rulings. The courts of the United States may rule on factors of religion but they cannot rule on whether not a religion is a true religion or not because the Constitution protects religious freedom for all Americans.

Samuel Handy- “Anglicanism's African Future”
Professor Kristensen

Since the controversial 2003 decision of the U.S. Episcopalian church to ordain Gene Robinson, a homosexual man, to the episcopate, the forty member churches of the Anglican Communion have been heavily divided along cultural lines between the liberal-leaning "Global North" and more traditionalist "Global South.” These initial divisions widened into a broader conflict over whether Anglicanism would continue to be guided by its colonial past. This process culminated in the 2008 formation of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which set out under largely African leadership to reestablish the grounds of a global Anglican orthodoxy. In the decade since, GAFCON has successfully utilized traditional Christian teaching as a powerful tool against religious neocolonialism and prompted discussion over the shift in global Christianity from its historical origins in Europe to its demographic future in Africa.

Session 22: Intersectionality and Women's Health

4:10 PM--Ames B207
Moderator: Rachel Riedner, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Professor of Writing and of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Arielle Maignan- “How Has Marginalization of Black Women Impacted Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Rates”
Professor Barlow

Maternal mortality is not a new phenomenon, rather it is something that has been happening for centuries. Maternal mortality is defined by deaths that occur during pregnancy or within 42 days of pregnancy termination and are caused by maternal conditions or complications and not accidental causes (CDC, 1999). Maternal mortality is a major issue, especially among the black community. In the US alone, 700 women die annually due to childbirth and pregnancy complications (CDC, 2019). There is a need for more research to fully understand the gap in knowledge about the racial disparity associated with the disproportionate maternal mortality ratios (referred to as MMR). The problem this paper would like to address is how misconceptions and stereotypes based on race impact the rates of maternal mortality among Black women in the US. In order to address this problem, the objective of the study was to gather a deeper understanding of the racial disparity in MMR. In accordance with the objective of the study, a meta-analysis of field data collected from death certifications, verbal autopsy from an attending physicians, and household surveys given to the relatives of the deceased will be used to formulate the results. This data will be collected from states such as California, Washington DC, New York, and Chicago. This research will open up a path for further research and open discussion about our medical system and the systematic/institutionalized racism that continues to flow through the country. These findings can bring awareness to more physicians, and people in general, of their actions and possible implicit/unconscious bias. When people become more aware of their actions and biases they become more willing to work on it and this can eventually lead to the disparity of MMR between white and black women to decrease.

Nick Porr, Naomi Michelson and Molly Ahern- “The Detrimental Impact of Gender Biases on the Health and Safety of Disabled and Chronically Ill Women" 
Professor Wilkerson

The purpose of this study is to discuss how physical disabilities affect female college students, and the influence it has on their social lives and acclimation to college life. Additionally, we will be exploring the intersectionality between their gender, socioeconomic status, and disability. Specifically, how the stigma surrounding the physical capabilities of someone with a disability and the stereotype of women being physically inferior intertwine. We will also be discussing the impact that their socioeconomic status has had on their ability to receive necessary treatment. Furthermore, we will analyze how the stress of college life exacerbates their levels of fatigue. Finally, we will discuss the interaction between location and disability, examining the difference in impact based off of the location of the campus (ex. Urban vs rural).

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