University Writing & Research Conference Program Spring 2023

Thu, 2 March, 2023 8:30am - 9:30pm

University Writing & Research Conference
Thursday, March 2nd -Friday, March 3rd
Online on Zoom and in Post Hall

Spring 2023 Conference Schedule

The conference comprises 10 panels, with one session per time band. All panel sessions are 50-60 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.

Online sessions will be conducted via this Zoom link

In person sessions will be held in Post Hall, The Academic Building, Mount Vernon Campus: Friday 10am (5), 11:30am (6), and 1pm (7)

Session 1, Thursday, March 2,, Online, 5:00 PM

Community Engaged Scholarship Panel, Hosted by the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service

Moderator: Wendy Wagner, Director of Community Engaged Scholarship, Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service


Power Structures and the Ability of Nonprofits to Initiate Policy Change

Sneha Srivatsa

Professor: Ryder

Miriam’s Kitchen (MK) is a unique organization in that it focuses not only on providing direct service to clients experiencing chronic homelessness in the form of serving meals and providing housing support services, but also on advocating for change on a policy level. A discussion in which we compared multiple nonprofits in the DC area revealed that while support from the government gave an organization such as MK more power to execute change, it also limited their ability to take more extreme political stances as their power was somewhat dependent on adhering more closely to the status quo. This led me to explore to what extent structures of political power in cities impact the ability of a nonprofit organization such as Miriam’s Kitchen to advocate for effective change in public policy. After analyzing several journal articles examining power structures and MK’s recent advocacy initiatives, I came to the conclusion that by positioning themselves within the legislative branch of the DC government, MK is in a position of greater power to successfully advocate for policy changes by becoming part of the elite decision-making group.


In Decadence and Decay: The Capitalist and Colonial Logics of Homelessness in Post-Industrial Washington DC

Taytum Valentine Wymer

Professor: Ryder

Homelessness exemplifies the violence of capitalism, it is the unavoidable contradiction of capitalism as it pushes forward into new epochs of production. This is particularly highlighted in Washington, D.C., the capital of the American Empire, with 5,111 people experiencing homelessness in D.C. in 2021. This paper works to understand homelessness as a socio-political concept. In an attempt to counter reductive understandings of homelessness, this paper looks to understand how the homelessness is not simply a phenomena of modern society but is based into the social, political, and economic structures that undergird America. This paper analyzes how capitalism and logics of colonialism structures homelessness and homeless policy, putting it in the context of DC homeless policy, encampment clearings, and DC urban development, ultimately highlighting how these structures of power materialize in the violence and dispossession homeless communities face. Drawing upon both classic understandings of capitalism and homelessness, in addition to a modern analysis of post-industrial cities, as well as an analysis of a long history of colonial logics, respectability politics, and white supremacy, this paper seeks to place modern homelessness in DC within historical context.



Session 2, Thursday March 2, Online, 7:00 PM

Legal and Global Considerations In Fashion

Moderator: Wendy Wagner, Director of Community Engaged Scholarship, Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service


How Law Can Promote a More Sustainable Fashion Industry Through Incorporating the Interests of Governments, Businesses, and Consumers

Connor Wolosewicz

Professor: Wolfe

Fast fashion companies, although environmentally damaging, have grown tremendously in the past several years due to factors such as cheap manufacturing, lax foreign labor laws, and an increasingly efficient supply chain to mass produce low-cost garments. One company in specific, Shein, has catapulted from a small Chinese e-commerce company to the largest fashion retailer in the world. The giant now uploads thousands of products each day to their website. However, behind this hides an unprecedented exploitation of our environment in the name of profit, along with several labor and human rights issues. Today, with inflation choking our expendable income and fashion trends that move constantly with the help of social media, these brands have capitalized on fashion conscious consumers who can’t afford more sustainably produced clothing. Unfortunately, the United States has done little to reject this trend; meanwhile, gaps in fashion law, inconsistent business models, and consumer habits have actually accelerated it. If the United States were to regulate the industry further and improve transparency, consumers would be less likely to support a burgeoning fashion movement that is killing our planet.


Donation of Defective Winter Garments for Refugees

Eugenia Winzey

Professor: Hijazi

There is a need for reform, refugees die due to little access to warm garments during winter months, and establishing a system of donation for company disregarded defective and unsold clothing is a valid alternative solution. The first stakeholder in this issue are companies who produce winter garments. The implications of the alternatives can promote companies to contribute. In widespread recognition and advertisement comes the process of donation and environmental implications on the issue, specifically the downscale in air pollution and the reduction of landfills. The most evident stakeholder is the refugees who require warm clothing. Even with defects in terms of style or functionality, refugees see these garments as acceptable. The most important stakeholder is international organizations. Most specifically, how they can facilitate the process. The first step would be the responsibilization of the companies disregarding clothing in such extreme measures. Second would be the aspect of recollection, in how companies would like to be part of this solution. Third, would be the part of assessing the effectiveness of the garments, and how they would be used by refugees. And lastly comes the part of distributing the garments to the respective camps and locations in need.



Session 3, Thursday, March 2, Online, 8:30 PM

Reimagining Home and Redefining Social Structures

Moderator: Jeffrey Brand, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Affairs & Special Programs; Associate Professor of Philosophy; Affiliated Faculty, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration


The Futile Cycle of Repatriation

Sakira Hermawan

Professor: Hijazi

Current refugee infrastructure and programming expects that refugees will be able to repatriate back to their homes. In reality, these homes have been ravaged and broken, and can be completely unsuited for repatriation. The Rohingya Muslims are an example of how repatriation can become a cycle with no reconciliation. In this research project, I argue against the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims. The stagnant circumstances in Rohingya citizenship, Myanmar-Rohingya social tensions, and Myanmar’s military government parallel past efforts to repatriate Rohingyas. However, with newer development within Myanmar and outside in the Bangladesh refugee camps, the Rohingya refugee crisis is more urgent than ever yet solutions are lacking. Why would we repeat the same mistakes as history?


Modern Kings, Exiles, and Serfs in the Persian Gulf

Noah Foley Jordan

Professor: Abbas

The modern economic design of the Persian Gulf is cruel, exploitative, and doomed to failure. The conditions of the Kafala system in question are designed to fleece foreign laborers for all of their labor value with as little reward in return as is possible. The system has roots planted deep into the resource-exploitative late years of the British Empire, and the Emirs of the Gulf states take full advantage of this in exactly the same ways as their imperial predecessors did. The oil wealth facilitated by migrant labor allows the Emirs to enrich the native Arabs of the region, and that prosperity has contributed to the States’ stability while the rest of the region has been tumultuous. However, this economic model is unsustainable. At the same time as global awareness of Kafala has hurt the reputation of the Gulf, an aging population and decreasing migrant supply threatens to destroy the region’s prosperity within the next several decades. If the Emirs fail to make significant changes in the next few years, the bases of their wealth and power will begin to slip out from underneath them.



Session 4, Friday, March 3, Online, 8:30 AM

Place, Space and Imagining Resistance

Moderator: Shira Eller, Art and Design Librarian


Humanity Versus the Presidency: the FDR Memorial

Maeve Richardson

Professor: Mantler

The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial on the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. is tasked with encompassing the life and service of the longest serving president in the United States’ history. With such an undertaking comes the challenge of correct presentation – which version of FDR should be displayed? The strong American hero in the form of a president or the complex man behind the public figure? The initial intention of the memorial as designed by Lawrence Halprin was to display FDR only as the hero, yet the fully finished memorial speaks to the former president’s humanity as well. The display of humanity can be attributed to the inclusion of the prologue statue showcasing FDR in his wheelchair which has a profound impact both on the memorial itself, and visitors.


Challenging White Supremacist Narratives at Plantation Museums and Related Heritage Spaces

Camille Murray

Professor: Quave

How have historical plantation sites changed the narrative concerning plantation life to focus away from white supremacist narratives to a Black centered narrative of Black struggle and liberation? How do the role of collective action and heightened awareness of slavery through popular culture and increased diversity in America force these institutions to change how they tell the diverse narratives of enslaved people in the South? With nearly 400 plantation museums in the United States, centering African American narratives is essential. Non BIPOC archaeologists and non-archaeologists alike must reconsider their positionalities with enslavement and how it has been taught in academic spaces. A narrative prioritizing Black voices must be adopted to eliminate bias at the social and political level.


Lovecraft: A Case Study in Bigotry and Chimerism

Ava Arvand

Professor: Krishnan

H.P. Lovecraft is notorious for encapsulating fear perfectly within his fiction. Examining Lovecraft's background reveals that his bigotry fueled the fear that enabled him to write effectively. This paper analyzes the relationship between fear and bigotry through a case study of Lovecraft and his fictional nonhumans. By examining Lovecraft's view on fear, the meticulous design of his characters, and the neuroanatomy of fear in every human, this paper proposes a structure of how fear fuels bigotry– a structure that modern feminist philosophers corroborate in the solutions they embrace. The results show that fear often stems from the unknown: the element of fear that Lovecraft takes advantage of in his writing. Fear is exceptionally effective at motivating action to prevent death in harmful situations. The unknown is always the realm that carries the most potential for danger, even in nonhumans, because there is no way to prepare for or prevent a life-threatening event. However, as the motivation of human action got more complicated than a simple fear-aided escape reflex, the concept of the "unknown" extended to other humans who may differ from the concrete categories and schemas that define humanity for a group of people– making them nonhuman. Therefore, the crux of bigotry is the sharpness of these categories in the human mind, and the structure of fear in the brain further perpetuates. Nonetheless, the goal of reducing bigotry is by no means insurmountable. Modern philosophers suggest that breaking down these categories will help quell the fervor of prejudice and create a more understanding world community. Overall, mental exercises in nuance may significantly decrease bigotry.



Session 5, Friday, March 3, Post Hall, 10:00 AM

Cultivating Local Health Resources

Moderator: Elizabeth Kuntz, Eckles Librarian


Growing a Better Future for Type 2 Diabetes: A Grant Proposal for a Community Garden in DC’s Ward 8

Leddy Scheurer

Professor: Barlow

Obesity and poor diet are both major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D), a chronic, degenerative health condition stemming from absent or ineffective insulin in the bloodstream. Both of these factors are exacerbated by lack of healthy food access; as such, unhealthy food access and T2D go hand in hand. Due to lack of physical access to, but more importantly, an inability to afford nutritious foods, low-income and POC communities experience a significantly higher level of T2D. However, community gardens have proven to be effective in increasing healthy food access for economically disadvantaged communities of color. This paper proposes the construction of a community garden in Ward 8 of Washington, DC, a predominantly Black community that struggles with healthy food access. This community suffers from the highest rates of T2D in Washington, DC, and its residents are primarily fed by convenience stores offering processed, calorically dense foods. The construction of an urban garden would provide a source of fresh produce to Ward 8, helping to mediate the T2D epidemic among its residents. A mixed-methods, quasi-experimental study would also be conducted before and after the implementation of the garden to determine its effects on food access for those with T2D.


Increasing Student Utilization of Mental Health Resources at George Washington University

Isabelle Bonita

Professor: Schell

The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a country-wide exposure of the effects of structural and social barriers to accessing mental health care, and the severe weaknesses in our current healthcare system. In this project, the author explores the local and national standards of mental health care in the United States, and brings it back to Washington DC, where she evaluates the current state of mental health resources at George Washington University, as well as the past promises, mistakes, and future of the University's standards of care. The author takes a deep dive into the progress of George Washington University's resources for student mental health and offers recommendations to improve upon its current offerings.



Session 6, Friday March3, Post Hall, 11:30 AM

Addressing Rural and Indigenous Health Issues

Moderator: Christopher Brick, Editor and Principle Investigator of the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project


“Addressing the Barriers to Mental Healthcare in Rural Colorado: The Role of the Counselor in Addressing Physical Barriers and Mental Health Stigma”

Kaya Crawford

Professor: Ryder

Please note: This presentation discusses mental health issues, including a mention of suicide.

Rural Colorado is facing a mental health crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting high levels of depression and other mental illness. Rural Coloradans face barriers such as a lack of service providers and a stigma which prevents individuals from seeking mental healthcare. My paper analyzes how two practices, the practice of social justice advocacy and the Multicultural Counseling Competencies and Standards, can be employed by the counselor to address barriers to mental healthcare for rural Colorado. In order to support struggling individuals, counselors must make changes to meet the needs of the client and community.


United State's Indigenous Maternal Mortality

Kamini Waldman

Professor: Barlow

For my research I examined Indigenous Maternal Mortality within the United States through the lens of structural Racism, Urbanism, and Classism. In my UW Women's Health course we  dedicated a lot of time to examining the social determinants of health and speaking about how healthcare justice involves asking "why does this issues exist and persist?" as opposed to only asking "what is the issue?" I started off my research by gaining a broader understanding of overall maternal mortality within the United States and how national rates compare to other developed nations. After collecting a baseline of information I turned the focus of my research to examining why rates of maternal mortality for the Indigenous community within the United States is so high. The bulk of my paper examines how racism, classism, and urbanism intersect to create barriers for Indigenous pregnant people in accessing the care they need and therefore contributing to Indigenous maternal mortality. 



Session 7, Friday, March3, Post Hall, 1:00 PM

Analyzing Risks to the LGBTQ+ Community

Moderator: Rachel Riedner, CCAS Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Professor of Writing and of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Happiest Season: Compulsory Coming Out and Heteronormativity

Allie Robinson

Professor: Smith

This project discusses the concept of compulsory coming out within media, film, and today's society. Specifically, it analyzes Clea DuVall’s 2020 film Happiest Season and its harmful message that coming out is necessary to be valid in the LGBTQ+ community. Utilizing Zuziwe Khuzwayo’s concept of inviting in, I argue that forcing characters to come out in films only conforms to heteronormative structures and that instead, individuals should disclose their identity to those they feel most comfortable with. In the film, Harper (Mackenzie Davis) is only pictured to be a respectful girlfriend and a valid member of the LGBTQ+ community when she is forced to come out to heterosexual individuals in her life. This portrayal of compulsory coming out is just one of the many ways this film reiterates dangerous messaging to LGBTQ+ individuals. The messaging within films such as Happiest Season continues to be harmful in society as individuals, such as Kit Connor, have recently been forced by the media to come out when they are not ready.


Social Structures Fail Queer Youth: The Overrepresentation of Queer Youth in Sex Trafficking

Benjamin Robinson

Professor: Barlow

In America, the marginalization of queer identities and individuals leads to the creation of multitudes of risk factors that lead queer youth into homelessness, drastically increasing their risk of becoming a victim of sex trafficking. Queer youth represent about 5-10% of the United States youth population. However, they represent nearly half of the youth falling victim to homelessness. When examining the sex trafficking of adolescent victims, homelessness is one of the most significant risk factors that lead to being victimized. This study examines how power structures in the United States fail to address the issue of queer youth homelessness, thus failing to address the overrepresentation of queer youth in the population of American youths who fail victim to sex trafficking. By understanding how American structuralism and the systemic prejudice within such structures impact the lives of queer youths, we can devise strategies for which said structures could be improved.



Session 8, Friday, March 3, Online, 02:30

Theorizing Learning and Infinity 

Moderator: Ben Bronner, Teaching Assistant Professor of Strategic Management & Public Policy


The Role of Recursive Feedback in Maximizing Transfer of Learning Capabilities in Social Studies Classrooms

Gabri Kurtzer-Ellenbogen

Professor: Michiels

Learning by Teaching (LBT) is a well-researched pedagogy with ancient origins. A central, though less-studied, process in LBT is that of recursive feedback (RF), the cycle of indirect feedback generated by a student-teacher’s observation of their pupil’s interaction with and application of taught content. This article examines the links between RF and transfer of learning (TOL), another well-explored concept in education. Since RF’s efficacy has been shown primarily in STEM classrooms, and the measurement of TOL is similarly harder to define and measure outside of the STEM classroom, this paper seeks to analyze and link existing research on RF and TOL to present a discussion on how this research can specifically inform social studies classroom practice. The article concludes that metacognitive skills and development are integral to both RF and TOL. In turn, both pedagogies can complement and enhance each other’s success in a social studies classroom. Overall, this article’s takeaways have explicit implications for social studies pedagogy, and potentially broader applications in pedagogy development and research across different disciplines. Ideally, this research leads to secondary and higher education social studies curricula that can successfully implement RF opportunities that promote effective learning transfer.


The Influence of Religion on Mathematical Infinity

Bria Rode

Professor: Abrams

Concepts of infinity have evolved over the millenia, through both individual discoveries and discussion. Infinity is not a rigidly set notion, but rather an ever evolving concept that has played a role in formal mathematics, culture, tradition, philosophy, science, and religion. While religious and cultural infinity do not rely on mathematical infinity, the infinity that exists in formal mathematics has benefited greatly from the open discussion and debate of notions of the infinite, but especially from religious input during this process. This paper will consider the methods of developing basic concepts of infinity, and the implications of the existence of infinity in separate areas of the world, regarding the required conditions for acquiring knowledge of infinity, will be considered. The importance of historical, cultural, and temporal factors in examining and developing concepts of infinity will be identified, highlighting the separate ways infinity has been considered and explored. In particular, the use of religion in developing mathematical infinity will be displayed, depicting both the positive and negative impacts of considering mathematics, specifically infinity, in tandem with religious perspectives.



Session 9, Friday, March 3, Online, 4:00 PM

Women, Art, and Craftivism

Moderator: Thomas Choate, Teaching Assistant Professor of Strategic Management & Public Policy


Olympia's Gaze: A Glimpse into the Historical Appropriation of Aphrodite

Olivia Nippe-Jeakins

Professor: Pollack

"Olympia's Gaze: A Glimpse into the Historical Appropriation of Aphrodite" is an exploration of the portrayal of the goddess of love over the ages. By studying the goddess' history and the use of her likeness, society's changing views on love and sex are revealed. Starting with her origination on the island of Cyprus, her image has swept across the globe, embedding her presence into the public's collective consciousness. Aphrodite has continued to serve as a muse for artists for millennia, inspiring the first sculpture of the female nude as well as scenes in movies such as Titanic. This was particularly true with Manet's infamous Olympia, as his portrayal of the goddess served as a bridge between society's past and present understandings of her. Olympia, by empowering women to once again exert control over their sexuality, informed all modern interpretations of Aphrodite.


Open to Love: Window Symbolism in the Work of Johannes Vermeer

Alexandra Catalanello

Professor: Pollack

Windows had been used as a symbol to portray women in a negative, often sexualized light. In my essay “Open to Love: Window Symbolism in the work of Johannes Vermeer”, I examine examples from the Renaissance to the Dutch Republic in the 17th century to show the origins of window iconography. Although times and customs had changed, harsh gender roles for women had not. I reference some of Vermeer’s famous works, such as Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, and Officer and a Laughing Girl to show how windows, in accordance with other blatant iconography of the time, like wine, men, and musical instruments, allows viewers to view the female subjects as morally wrong. In contrast, I used Lady Holding A Balance to showcase the ideal woman, who is untouched by the light of the window and pure. Overall, Vermeer and many other artists did this to create drama into their works, often not thinking about how it lent itself to the societal treatment of women overall.


Exploring participation, quiet activism, and post-feminism in contemporary online craftivist communities

Mary Holine Van Mol

Professor: Myers

I explored the ideas of quiet activism, participation, and self satisfaction in online craftivist communities through the lens of third-wave feminism and post feminism. I chose three online communities, the tiny pricks project, the Raverly Resistance Knitters, and Knitters for MCCNY and Knit the Rainbow, to explore how these different groups decide on their goals, how they achieve their goals, and how participants view their own role within the community. By using third-wave feminism and post feminism, I was able to identify patterns in their goals, whether those goals be quiet activism or loud activism, a term I used to describe the goal of calling attention to an issue or type of activism.



Session 10, Friday, March 3, Online, 5:10 PM

Monuments, Media, and the Representation of History

Moderator: Julie Donovan, Associate Professor in the University Writing Program


Conquering Hell: The Legacy of Raising the Flag Over Iwo Jima

Blake Hobbs

Professor: Mantler

This project dives into the significance of the iconic image of US Marines raising the American flag over Iwo Jima, the most widely distributed photograph of World War Two. The US Marine Corps existed long before Iwo Jima, and various elements of the battle are assessed to determine what differentiates this battle from countless others to make it so symbolic for American Marines. The analysis centers on the use of the photograph which became immortalized in the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Drawing upon various sources ranging from declassified government reports to recent scholarly articles and interpretations of the memorial, the iconography in the photo is used to embody the evolution of American idealism throughout the Cold War and into the modern day. The project culminates in the notion that the memorial is historically representative of not only the Marines who served under the flag, but also the infallibility and resilience of the American people amid times of strife.


The Polarization in Trump’s First Impeachment: Key Differences Found in the Media

Mark Michniak

Professor: Svoboda

Polarization in American politics has rapidly increased in recent decades with no indication of it slowing down. This topic has garnered much attention of late, especially since Donald Trump’s entrance into politics before the 2016 election. To further explore this, I analyzed op-eds written by both liberals and conservatives in reaction to the first impeachment of President Donald Trump. The methods of analysis used for this project were stasis analysis and moral foundations theory analysis. I expected to find that liberal writers would overwhelmingly support impeachment while conservative writers would vigorously oppose it. Furthermore, I anticipated that these writers would differ in their word choice and overall tone of their writing, which would bring about different moral foundations. Specifically, as past studies have shown, liberals would appeal more to the foundations of harm/care and fairness/reciprocity, while conservatives would use all five of the foundations more equally. By using a moral foundations theory and stasis analysis, I was able to see where both sides differed in their arguments as well as to connect their reactions and opinions on the impeachment process from a psychological point of view. This project aims to see if these differences remain true between liberals and conservatives through op-eds about a very profound and rare moment in American history. The findings will be of concern to those in the disciplines of Psychology, Media Studies, and Communications. Interest in my project may also come from those concerned by polarization in society and the reasons it may be occurring.

Open to everyone.

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