University Writing & Research Conference Program Spring 2022
Thursday, February 24 & Friday, February 25
Online on Zoom
Spring 2022 Conference Schedule
The conference comprises 11 panels, with one session per time band. All panel sessions are 50 minutes in length. Please arrive on time and plan to stay for the entire session, including the Q&A, which is an important component of the panel discussion.
All sessions will be conducted via Zoom.
Check Out These Prizes Celebrating Undergraduate Writing at GW:
- Julian Clement Chase Prize for exceptional undergraduate research writing about Washington, D.C.
- The Eckles Prize for Freshman Research Excellence
Session 1, Thursday, February 24, 400pm
DC Research Partnerships: Community-Engaged Research and Writing
Moderator: Samuel Ward, Criminal Justice Major and 2022 Teach For Americorp Member
The Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service hosts this particular session. We look forward to gathering students, faculty, and community partners for a dialogue about experiences and values in community engagement in research and writing.
True Community Engagement Through Art During COVID-19
Professor: Ryder (UW 1020)
ArtReach GW at THEARC: An Observational Evaluation
Abigail Care and Alexa Betances (Community Partner: ArtReach GW at THEARC)
Professor: Kelso (HSSJ 3100W Program Planning and Evaluation
J.U.M.P: Journalists Unite Mentorship Program, Let’s JUMP Into IT
Shayna Druckman, Gabby Pino, Ben Theuma (Community Partner: Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services)
Professor: Russ (SOC 2189W: Special Topics in Criminal Justice, DC Youth and Policing)
Session 2, Thursday, February 24, 530pm
Creating Prescriptive Solutions to Community Health
Moderator: Elizabeth Chacko, Associate Provost for Special Programs & the Mount Vernon Academic Experience, Professor of Geography & International Affairs
The Effects of Dark Chocolate on the Perceived Stress Levels and Resulting Performance of College Students in a Pressured Academic Environment
Extensive study on the components of dark chocolate has provided the potential benefits of its daily consumption, a discovery that may aid students in high-stress testing environments. High stress is an epidemic difficulty for college students today, plaguing the majority on a daily basis. Research proves that stress can have a detrimental effect on these scholars in terms of academic performance, which may be explained by its independent effects on both general ability to concentrate and memory formation and retrieval. However, the introduction of flavonoid-rich chocolate to the Lymnaea snail has shown promising results: chocolate can significantly decrease stress, while increasing memory function independently as well. The implementation of dark chocolate into a student’s diet may therefore improve academic performance as well as memory efficiency.
The Path to Recovery in West Virginia’s Nightmarish Opioid Crisis
The death toll from West Virginia’s opioid epidemic is the highest of any state in the United States per 100,000 people. The West Virginia state legislature’s efforts to regulate prescriptions have helped, but it is not enough, as other, more unregulated sources of these drugs have just compounded the problem by making overdose deaths more common. Making the OTPs (Opioid Treatment Programs) run by the state governments, augmenting and standardizing the existing opioid education that surrounds employees at work, and paying pathologists increased salaries are all options that would help lower mortality rates, reduce misuse of opioids, and prevent future addicts. Of these, the move to make OTPs run by the state government would be the best policy solution.
Session 3, Thursday, February 24, 700pm
Centering Race and Gender in Film
Moderator: Kavita Daiya, Professor of English
Stranger Things: The Lack of Acknowledgement of Race and Racism
This article discusses Netflix’s Stranger Things and the lack of overt race-related plot points on the show. It uses the lens of racial colorblindness (Mueller) to argue that certain fans’ disinterest in the issue of racism stems from their desire to enjoy the plot without having to burden themselves with considerations of larger societal contexts and implications. The article expands on previous research about racial colorblindness in films, real-world interactions, and education to demonstrate that the fandom’s reaction to the absence of racial themes can be attributed to a general disinterest in the issue of race in the context of the show. Through evidence from various fan communities, the article also indicates concerns about shifts towards potential instances of racism within the fandom.
Keywords: Stranger Things, racial colorblindness, race, film, education
“Please Don’t Stop the Music”: How Pitch Perfect Expands Recognition of Women’s Contributions to Popular Culture
This presentation analyzes changing perceptions of the female voice in popular culture as illustrated by Jason Moore’s 2012 film Pitch Perfect. Over the years, young women have continuously demonstrated their abilities to catalyze change in popular media, from their popularization of boy bands to their creation and dissemination of fashion trends; despite these efforts, women are often silenced and suppressed in these realms. Their beliefs and ideas are often contested and questioned, perpetuating internalized misogyny and self-silencing. Beca (Anna Kendrick) displays a woman at a crossroads attempting to assert her legitimacy in the music industry. Throughout the film, misogynistic slang, suppression by authority figures, and negative self-talk illuminate the struggles women face when trying to express themselves, facing sexist standards from their peers, authorities, and themselves. In a final performance, Beca and the supporting female cast overcome these gendered constraints and rejoice in musicality. Ultimately, I assert that the film exposes this existing sexism in the music industry which demonstrates overarching societal tendencies to silence young women and their contributions to popular culture.
Session 4, Thursday, February 24, 830pm
Communicating Our Past And Imagining Our Futures
Moderator: Alexander van der Horst, Deputy Chair in the Department of Physics, Associate Professor of Physics
The Full "Impact of the Bible"
The Museum of the Bible opened in 2017 here in Washington, DC with a goal to inform people from all backgrounds about the history and significance of the Bible in everyday life. One exhibit in the museum is “The Impact of the Bible in America,” which takes visitors through a journey of the Bible’s role in American history. “Impact,” however, ends in the 1960s. Taking into consideration the multiple other controversies embroiled in the Museum of the Bible’s operations, such as the Evangelical beliefs of its founder, it is disappointing but not surprising that the institution would forgo discussion of modern biblical issues in “Impact.” The omission of current events, considering the relative newness of the museum as a whole, is disheartening and suggests museum curators are afraid of the objective truth. Missing information in “Impact” ultimately comes at the expense of the museum as a whole and leads one to question the validity of the institution.
Nation to Nation at the National Museum of the American Indian: A Disjointed Approach to a Complicated Past and Present
In this presentation, I examine the history of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and evaluate the success of its exhibit Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations against the standard of how well the exhibit narrates the past. It is the result of my research that the exhibit, in an attempt to break down a tumultuous history into an exhibit digestible to visitors of the NMAI, narrates the past well, but with some notable caveats. The exhibit is contextualized by the NMAI which itself is a product of controversy and dedicated Native advocacy beginning in 1986. Nation to Nation came to fruition on the 10th anniversary of the NMAI as an attempt to change its previous strategy of “community curation” which was harshly criticized by the media. Curated by Native activist Suzan Shown Harjo, Nation to Nation communicates many of the realities of the injustices faced by Native Nations by colonists and the US government through the lens of eight treaties while also returning to a message of coexistence and diplomacy. The overly forgiving analysis resulting from this disconnect in messaging is the exhibit’s biggest downfall as it proves itself to be deserving of a much more aggressive analysis.
Modern Nuclear Communication: How Disasters and Necessity Shape our Dialogue
My project is a research-based analysis of the methods and frames of communication utilized by multiple world leaders on the subject of nuclear energy in a world following the Fukushima-Daiichi disaster that occurred in Japan. Specifically, I examine French President Emanuel Macron’s recent presentation known as “France 2030.” In this presentation, Macron details his vision for the French energy sector moving forward. I examine the language and framework Macron uses in this presentation to sway the public, as well as contrast it with a speech given by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The paper then compares the framing used by these two figures compared to the language and frames used to argue for or against nuclear energy in the past. To do this, I use a 1989 paper by Professors William A Gamson and Andre Modigliani in which they describe the nuclear energy framing from the 1950s to the 80s. Overall, I found that while there are some commonalities, the modern nuclear discourse has a much greater tone of environmental framing in the face of Climate Change.
Session 5, Friday, February 25, 830am
COVID19: Testing Democracy and Disrupting Politics
Moderator: Christopher Brick, Research Scientist, The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers
Deliberative Democracy: A Prescription for What Ails Us
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought medical resource allocation decision-making to the forefront of public discourse in the United States. Scarcity of vaccines, ICU beds, and medical professionals has forced hard decisions about both who should receive treatment and who should have the power to make that decision. Deliberative democracy, a decision-making process that engages laypeople, has been growing in popularity and use as a tool for creating equitable and effective health policy. The New York Task Force on Life and the Law, the Public Engagement Pilot Project on Pandemic Influenza (PEPPPI), and presidential bioethics panels are examples of recent efforts to incorporate deliberative democracy in healthcare. However, faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, most health policy decision-making pivoted back towards a top-down approach to resource allocation. These decisions were met with distrust, political polarization, and non-compliance. Analyzing the results of COVID-19 decision-making in the US reveals the weaknesses of the current decision-making process and raises the question of how this process should be changed to handle future health care emergencies. Given the current political and social context, deliberative democracy’s strengths make it particularly suited to respond to crises today.
The Shot Heard Around the World: How Morality Shapes Political Views Toward the Vaccine Mandate
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to the United States. One unique challenge is finding a bipartisan solution to stop the spread of the virus. A potential solution is vaccinating the vast majority of the population with the novel COVID-19 vaccines, but the method to do so incites great controversy. Using moral foundations theory and the stasis doctrine, I analyzed op-eds from four major newspaper venues to study the different attitudes among liberals and conservatives toward the Biden Administration’s federal vaccine mandate, and more specifically, how underlying moral differences may be causing political polarization. At the end of my research, I found liberal and conservative authors endorsing the same ingroup/loyalty and authority/respect moral foundations in their op-eds, suggesting that the differences in moral framework between political groups may be over exaggerated. This result leads to question the efficacy and flexibility of the moral foundations theory (if it can be applied to many circumstances, policies, groups) and whether partisan misperceptions (Chambers et al., 2006) influences this theory.
Session 6, Friday, February 25, 1000am
Action and Activisms: Narratives of Change
Moderator: Bethany Cobb Kung, Director, University Honors Program, Associate Professor of Honors and Physics
The Jewish Activist Front: Religious Revolutionaries or Rigid Rebels?
The Jewish Activist Front was a student organization active at GW during the 1970s. First forming in support of the Soviet Jewry movement, this group became the political unit for Jewish students. They urged students to join their cause in order to prevent another Holocaust-like event from happening again. However, their efforts to preserve and protect Jewish culture made them sensitive if not combative to other student groups who did not support a pro-Israel or Zionist position. This attitude developed into a feud with the International Student Society — a pro-Palestinian organization. After years of fighting, bickering, and scathing attacks (including a take over of WRGW airwaves) the GW community grew tired of the Jewish Activist Front until one day the grew seemed to fall off the face of campus.
"Actions Speak Louder Than Hashtags: Performative Activism Within the Black Lives Matter Movement"
The spring of 2020 shed light on new meanings and methods of activism as the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction. Examining particular instagram posts and internet trends, I examine the hindrance of more performative efforts of allyship present during this social movement. These performative practices take form in the content that’s endlessly reposted, the act of resharing meaningless messages, and the congestion of popular hashtags. While many users characterized their thoughtless reposting (motivated by their need to uphold their self-image) as being harmless, many of these efforts disrupted the circulation of meaningful resources and encouraged the trivialization of black lives. In my research, I acknowledge that social media has it’s benefits for uplifting voices within a social movement, but I make the argument that online activism must be coupled with offline advocacy in order to make a genuine impact on the movement and the user themself.
Celebritizing Climate Change: The Case of Quannah Chasinghorse
The concept of celebrity is constantly changing and proving to be more powerful than ever with the rise of social media. So-called “ordinary” people are able to become celebrities and use their newfound capital to express their views or advocate for certain topics. In some cases, these are “traditional celebrities”-- celebrities born out of TV shows, music, or movies. However, in some emerging new cases, these are activists. So-called “activist celebrities” are made celebrities purely because of their advocacy. One specific case of an emerging activist celebrity is Quannah Chasinghorse, an Indigenous model and activist from Fairbanks, Alaska. In this case, Chasinghorse’s success as a model works in tandem with her overwhelming emergence as a new celebrity youth activist. Chasinghorse was invited to the MET Gala, an extremely coveted fashion event, in September; this event gave Chasinghorse a wider platform and introduced her to new audiences. The downside to this, though, is that as activists like Chasinghorse become celebrities, they are treated as such– they are treated like those “traditional celebrities” and their personal lives are put on display, which detracts from the movements that they are fighting for, in this case the climate justice movement.
Session 7, Friday, February 25, 1130am
Stop Making Me Laugh!: Subversive Comedy and Its Impact on Resistance
Moderator: Shira Eller, Art and Design Librarian, George Washington University Libraries and Academic Innovation
Opinions Leading to The Ghost’s Four-Year Publication Gap
This research essay discussed the opinions of those both affiliated and unaffiliated with George Washington University around The Ghost, GW's student-run humor magazine in the 1920s. Furthermore, I addressed the purpose of the research essay, which is to dive deeper into the opinions surrounding The Ghost from the span of its first publication to its revival, along with how these opinions may have prompted the magazine’s four-year publication gap. In order to gain evidence, I analyzed opinions on The Ghost through relevant Washington Post and Hatchet articles, which displayed varied opinions both favorable and unfavorable, depending on the demographic. Although not much could be concluded on what exactly led to The Ghost’s publication gap, its enormous impact on the communities both within and beyond GW can still be drawn from this research. More specifically, it can be concluded that as The Ghost projects a diversion from traditional representations of women, these opinions reflected a deeper shift within society, along with how willing individuals were to adapt to shifting portrayals of feminism.
Guilty Laughs: How The Producers and Jojo Rabbit Challenge Us to Think Critically About Nazism
Of course you should feel uncomfortable when you laugh at a joke about Nazis. The Holocaust is not a light subject, and laughing at it feels like a violation of moral principles. But that laughter can be a tool of degradation, and many artists have used mockery to attack Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Films like Mel Brooks’s The Producers and Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit use satire to display the upsetting absurdity of the Nazi regime. Whether these works cross the line between insightful social critique and tasteless comedy is a point of contention among scholars. As I see it, effective Nazi satire ridicules and degrades the perpetrators, and it prompts the audience to reflect on the ways in which current society might resemble Nazi Germany. Nazi satire makes us uncomfortable because it challenges us; it breaks down our distant, detached understandings of the Holocaust and instead encourages empathy and deep critical thinking about the reality of what happened. It helps us see that everyone involved was human—just like us.
Session 8, Friday, February 25, 100pm
Beyond the Heteronormative: Examining Art and Its Audience through a Queer Lens
Moderator: Rachel Riedner, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Professor of Writing and of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Unbury Your Gays: The Catharsis of Reclaiming Dark Queer Tropes on LGBT Fans
I examine queer fan reaction to a unique take on the “bury your gays” (BYG) trope using fans of Tamsyn Muir’s sci-fi/fantasy series, The Locked Tomb (TLT), as the object of study. I use the lens of parasocial contact hypothesis when analyzing fan behavior and Clark’s four stages of representation to place these books within a larger cultural context. Through Tumblr, I observe that fans of TLT find catharsis in the parasocial relationship they experience with the main character, Gideon, and the radical act of a queer author writing an inverted version of this trope. I analyze previous research done on the typically negative fan reaction to examples of BYG. I conclude that more room should be made at the table for marginalized creators so that a range of authentic portrayals of characters from these marginalized groups can be explored. As this paper examines only one fandom, the reactions and response of other similar fandoms should be studied. For TLT, this issue should be revisited as more books are released.
The Barberini Faun: The Sensuality of Masculinity
The existence of sexuality in Ancient Greek art is a complex topic with a wide variety of representations ranging from marital relations to mythological orgies. How we interpret this sexuality can help us understand the role sexual desire played in ancient societies, as well as lay the groundwork for the male gaze still seen in art and media today. The Barberini Faun, a Hellenistic Pergamene style sculpture of a sleeping satyr, contains an implicit eroticism that was unprecedented for the period, and arguably still in modern contexts. This masculine, life-sized, ideal nude body is splayed out and exposed while sleeping, posing in a manner that suggests an invitation to touch him. This paper will explore how this piece diverges from the artistic norms and uses the male body to shed new light on masculine sexuality, as well as themes of objectification and power dynamics. By introducing a vulnerable male figure to the canon of Greek nudes, the Barberini Faun pushes past the gendered and structured ideas of sexuality and represents eroticism as a deeper human condition.
Session 9, Friday, February 25, 230pm
Time’s Up: An Exploration of Woman Subjugation and an Intersectional Approach to Gender Equity
Moderator: Megan Siczek, Associate Professor of English for Academic Purposes
Education: An Economic Crisis
In my research, I demonstrated how the inequality and lack of education for young women in developing countries affects the country’s economy and overall growth. I focused particularly on Afghanistan and concluded that factors such as gender discrimination and religious beliefs play impactful roles in why women are typically denied from receiving education and how this can negatively affect the country as a whole. Throughout my research, I highlighted the importance of women being involved in the economy and the circulation of gross domestic product in order for the country to economically grow and bring prosperity and stability to all citizens. The lack of women’s education in Afghanistan and many other developing countries leads to poverty, stunted economic growth, an overall lower quality of life, and increased discrimination against women. Along with the social factors caused by discrimination and segregation of men and women in society and economic factors that negatively impact the country, the violence brought upon women seeking education by the Taliban is heartbreaking and a pure example of how serious the issue regarding education inequality can be. There are numerous reasons why women’s education can benefit all people of a country, not just the women, and therefore, increase the quality of the country as a whole, presented in my research.
Women, married, children, and migraines: A qualitative inquiry
Hanaan Khabir and Ella Whitaker
Chronic migraines are the consistent and disruptive regular occurrence of migraines characterized by severe pain that can escalate and include vision loss and severe dehydration leading to hospitalization. We used a qualitative research method with two case studies of middle-aged women with chronic migraines to compare the testimonial experience of our participants. We viewed the way their experiences with chronic migraines differed through an intersectional lens, considering the differences of their sociocultural backgrounds and the way that their experiences with migraines impacted how they interacted with the world. Our results led us to the conclusion that environment is the main factor that contributes to the way many cis-gendered, heterosexual women experience chronic migraines, specifically how the sake of believed sociocultural responsibility brings aboutfeelings of shame and encourages suffering. Throughout the personal experiences of our study’s participants, themes of shame and suffering stood out. We were able to gain a deeper understanding of migraines and the social and environmental impact and reaction to migraines, specifically those in women.
Contraceptive Sabotage as Intimate Partner Violence: Reintroducing the Theory of Physical Autonomy and Bodily Liberty
Contraceptive sabotage is a somewhat ill-defined issue as its verbiage differs in legislation and scholarship: birth control sabotage, reproductive coercion, reproductive control, stealthing, protection deception. However its consequences are the same; physically it results in the lack of sexual autonomy and disregard for the health and safety of one’s partner and emotionally it causes intimidation and coercion of one’s reproductive and sexual control. Despite its prevalence, birth control sabotage is only acknowledged in one state in the United States, and only regarded in one singular form: stealthing. The general confusion and lack of legislation regarding contraceptive sabotage compounds and worsens its longstanding impacts on intimate partner violence, generating a necessity for legislation and jurisprudence on contraceptive sabotage issues. This paper explores physical autonomy precedent which informs the reconceptualization of domestic violence into intimate partner violence. This term recognizes non-physical abuse such as emotional coercion, sexual violence, and contraceptive deceit and sabotage as inherently abusive towards intimate partners, and ultimately, and more critically, as violations of physical autonomy.
Session 10, Friday, February 25, 400pm
One Step forward, Two Steps back: A Discussion on Racism and Its Stagnant Evolution in the U.S.
Moderator: Ann Myatt James, Data Services Librarian, George Washington University Libraries and Academic Innovation
The Effects that Notions of Race and Ethnicity have on U.S Presidential Elections
Racism, xenophobia, and discrimination have always been deep problems that run through America’s roots and past. This paper asks whether notions of ethnicity/race, created systemically or through rhetoric by both notable officials and the general population, play a role in the US presidential elections, specifically those in the early 21st century? This paper is a research review and thus is an amalgamation of many papers about the effects of notions of race/ethnicity on voting. In total, nine scholarly journal articles were used along with two research-based Washington Post articles. The data shows that with Obama’s deracialized campaign, negative racial notions played less of a role, while although still significant. With Trump, he stoked his primarily white identifying voters’ racist thoughts through his racially charged campaign. Usurpingly, not only can this trend be seen in the U.S but rather in elections around the world as seen with British elections. In short, notions of race/ethnicity did impact voter preference both in the U.S and the larger world while varying in importance and impact based on the exact election, candidate, and campaign strategy. In order to solve this problem of inequality, we must look at ourselves and the systems which encourage it.
Colorblindness: The New Racist Perspective
A spark of positive change has crowded the United States in recent years. This change has inspired conversations about race and racism and the implications that these have in society. As a result, the notion of “colorblindness” has influenced the dialogue about race and racism as a way of not seeing race as a determinant factor and move past racism with the idealization of a post-racial United States. While some express this idea with good intentions, the impact of pursuing that discourse has been detrimental to the efforts to critically identify the disparities in terms of race in the country, no matter the intentions. This research exposes the racial disparities as “a result of centuries of federal and state policies that have systematically facilitated the deprivation of Black Americans” in areas of segregation, wealth, housing, education, the Coronavirus Pandemic and the healthcare sector, and topics of interpersonal racism, microaggressions, among other matters of racism-provoked hurdles. The research concludes that while the idea of colorblindness proposes a post-racialism society, the United States has not moved beyond race. By bringing light to the election of former President Barack Obama and the rise in hate group membership, as well as the implications of exercising the colorblind idea, it shows how the reality is contrary to what this belief wants to portray. It ends by claiming that “if race is ignored as a determinant factor in today’s social inequalities, then it is almost impossible to tackle those precise injustices”.
Session 11, Friday, February 25, 510pm
Gender, the Construct: Thinking through the Performance of Gender Identity and Gender Expression in Art
Moderator: Kelly Grogg, Research Services Librarian, George Washington University Libraries and Academic Innovation
The Fabulous Awakening of Drag in Jazz Age Harlem: A Visual Study
Within scholarly literature related to the history of drag, there remains a lack of consensus regarding its origins. Diminutive research and imprecise generalizations about various aspects of theater gives way to misinterpretations of this art form, thus preventing a public understanding of how drag emerged into a mainstream cultural platform. In order to facilitate an accurate discussion that unravels the shaping of drag by its past, this paper revisits periods of female impersonation with a heightened examination of the marginalization prevalent in the backgrounds of many drag queens, and the intentions behind their gaudy appearance on stage. Interweaved with a pictorial approach that compares historical gender-bending illustrations and photographs with contemporary drag, this refined interpretation pinpoints its beginnings to the ballroom scene of the Harlem Renaissance, where members of the African-American LGBTQ community challenged the established societal norms of race, gender, and sexuality.
“For Fans, They Sure Do Complain A Lot”: Queerbaiting in Supernatural
My paper uses Supernatural’s antepenultimate episode, “Despair,” as a case study to understand the impact of the show’s use of queerbaiting on fans. Through the lens of cultivation theory and drawing upon previous research on queerbaiting, the “Bury Your Gays” media trope, queer representation in media, and the relationship between creators and fans, I assert that Supernatural’s use of queerbaiting is negative on a fundamental level, but fans are able to positively reclaim the text through the creation of fan works. The true harm for fans, however, lies in how “Destiel” is treated offscreen by SPN creators. I analyze the results of a survey I conducted on Tumblr, along with fix-it fics on Archive of Our Own and post-“Despair” Tumblr posts to illustrate the nuances of my argument, taking into account Brennan’s view of queerbaiting as creative opportunity for fans.
The Food of Love: Music in Dutch Painting and Society in the Seventeenth Century
This paper, which is formatted as a long essay in a catalogue of an art exhibition, examines the 1623 painting The Concert by the Dutch artist Gerrit van Honthorst. Through the lens of music and comparisons to other seventeenth century artwork, I explore the painting’s implications regarding the social class of its figures, the gender roles at play, and the romantic undertones of the piece. I also examine its historical background in order to respond to and build upon the claim by Arthur Wheelock – a former curator at the National Gallery of Art who oversaw the acquisition of this painting in 2013 – that the concertmaster in the painting is Frederick I, the exiled King of Bohemia.