University Writing & Research Conference Program Spring 2024

Thu, 29 February, 2024 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri, 1 March, 2024 10:00am - 6:30pm

University Writing & Research Conference
Thursday, February 29th &
Friday, March 1st
Online via Zoom, In-Person in Ames Hall

Spring 2024 Conference Schedule

The conference comprises 12 panels and 3 roundtable discussions. There will be concurrent sessions on Friday, March 1st at 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:00 PM, 2:30 PM, 4:00 PM, and 5:10 PM. 

All 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. 

Special Events:

Study Hall Free for All: Research and Writing Open House

Friday, March 1st, 3-5pm
Eckles Library, Mount Vernon Campus
*Register Here - GW Form - access via GW email
Join librarians, faculty, and Writing Center consultants for a reception to discuss research and writing, including your UW1020 project. Food and drink provided!

*Registration appreciated, but not required. Didn't register? Show up anyway!

Three Zoom Sessions will be conducted via this Zoom link

Thursday, Feb 29th

  • 5pm
  • 7pm
  • 8:30pm

In person sessions will be held in B101 -and- B201, Ames Hall, Mount Vernon Campus on Friday, March 1st.

Session 1, Community Engagement, Research, and Writing (Thursday, February 29th, 5pm)

Virtual Session, join via Zoom

Moderator: Wendy Wagner

How Mutual Aid can act as a force of opposition to capitalism
Vaishnavi Bhalla
Professor: Ryder

This paper discusses the role of mutual aid in a capitalistic society that promotes competition.  It examines how mutual aid directly opposes dangerous narratives surrounding vulnerable communities, as well as the structures of individualism and cynicism promoted under capitalism.  In particular, it discusses how Ward 2 Mutual Aid, a mutual aid organization in DC created as a response to the pandemic opposes fundamental capitalist values and contributes to a culture of care.

Keywords: individualism, cynicism, charity v. solidarity, the “lazy and idle poor” myth, culture of care, mutual aid, capitalism

Strategies for a Community-Based and Culturally-Centered Approach to Healthcare in West Africa: A Guide to Preserving Community Autonomy and Traditional Medicine in the Midst of Humanitarian Work.
Jada Traynor
Professor: (Nashman Center)

Sasha Bruce Youthwork Evaluation Report
Michelle Nnaieye Jiya and Melissa Epstein
Professor: (Nashman Center)

Session 2, Gender Mainstreaming in the Public Sphere (Thursday, February 29th, 7pm)

Virtual Session, join via Zoom

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

The Dark Truths of Dance: Gender Stereotypes in Ballet and Movements for Change
Abby Eickelbeck
Professor: Smith

From an outside perspective, dance is seen as a beautiful art form displaying elegance and strength. Although that is true, the dance industry is also full of harsh stereotypes and gender defining roles that create a community exclusive to LGBTQ+ dancers. My research focuses on exposing these stereotypes against "the ballerina body", gay men, and transgender dancers, all while highlighting a new company known as Ballet22. With the goal to create an inclusive environment for all dancers, regardless of body type or gender, Ballet22 curates pieces emphasizing the queer experience and allows men to dance en pointe, a technique usually reserved for ballerinas. I connect this new movement in the dance world to the larger implications it will have on younger generations, using personal experiences from my dance career to build on my point. Overall, I analyze the evolving dance world and explain how Ballet22 is at the forefront of this change.

The Effect of University Engineering Environments and Professional Workplace Environments on Female Engineers’ Participation
Maggie Lee
Professor: Michiels

The university environment is one that can greatly impact a student not only academically while attending college but also in the workforce. In terms of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), the environment is rigorous but can be rewarding. For women specifically, breaking through into a male dominated field, such as STEM, can be taxing and as difficult as the academics. In STEM, the most male dominated field is engineering, and while the ratio of men to women varies slightly in the sub-studies of engineering, such as mechanical engineering compared to biomedical engineering, a common difference is the disproportion of men to women in the workforce. There have been many studies that look at one aspect of the engineering environment in university, and others that look at the environment for women in the workforce, however little has been done to bridge the gap, or transition period, between university and the career of engineering. Analyzing the environments in engineering programs at the university level and engineering workplaces may present common factors directly impacting female engineers leaving the workforce, or never entering after obtaining a degree in engineering.

Campus Unsafety - Rape Culture & College Campuses
Alexandra D'Amico
Professor: Smith

My project is based on the prevalence of rape culture and how it permeates society, specifically college campuses, and more specifically, GW and Penn State. I researched the common tasks and responsibilities forced on women to ensure their safety in day to day life. I also studied the resources provided by both universities' on their Title IX websites for survivors and prevention steps. My project continues to look at how rape culture, acquaintance rape, and messaging affect the rates of sexual harassment and assault on campuses.


Session 3, Community Politics of Gendered Violence (Thursday, February 29th, 8:30pm)

Virtual Session, join via Zoom

Moderator: Barbara Benitez-Curry, Assistant Professor, School of Media and Public Affairs

Domestic Violence as a Basis for Asylum
Alexia Creeden
Professor: Hijazi

Across western countries, asylum applicants are constantly denied for various reasons. Unfortunately, this is usually the case for domestic violence survivors, who seek asylum in countries due to their fear of returning home. Even more unfortunate though, is the fact that many western countries do not have in place a system that protects these survivors, and grants them asylum. Therefore many women who have experienced domestic violence are forced to return to unsafe situations in their home country. In this project, I propose an addition to the United Nations definition of a refugee, which would include adding "women" as a sixth protected category for asylum. In doing so, I highlight the current issues with the United States' asylum system, and other similar western countries. Additionally, I refute the notion that this issue can be solved on a federal level, and conclude with my strong support of the change of definition at the United Nations level.

Perplexing Yet Obsolete: The Boy Scouts of America Commemorative Tribute, its Purpose, Implications, and Future.
Gillian Johnson
Professor: Mantler

Centered on the Boy Scouts of America's Commemorative Tribute in D.C., this essay focuses on the organizational history of the BSA, manifestations of religious iconography in monument design, and elements of human geography's concepts of space and place within the context of memorialization. I aim to evaluate any potential conversations that occur between Tribute’s obscure artistic nature and the BSA’s extremely troubled history of child sexual abuse and how those conversations may impact audiences (especially victims of sexual abuse) and their abilities to process public history. Given the BSA’s organizational history with sexual violence and additional struggles to resolve racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism, the tribute should be reevaluated and deemed defunct because of the impact its poor design and odd purpose have on the population(s) it was built to represent.

Session 4, Educating for American Democracy (Friday, March 1st, 10am)

B101, Level B1, Ames Hall

Moderator: Alexander J. van der Horst, Department Chair & Associate Professor of Astrophysics, Department of Physics

Politically Motivated Educational Change: How Does it Happen and Why?
Hutton Ward
Professor: Michiels

This project looks at political education curriculum changes and the reasons that push political actors to manipulate the school system for their own purposes. While there has been research into the evolution of political education curriculum in specific circumstances or countries, there has not been a general look at the phenomenon. This paper strives to find a relationship between the importance of political education, and the desires of political actors that generate important curriculum changes that have lasting impacts. After examining both the Lost Cause myth and the Soviet education system, a general model is created that relies on the idea that political education can never be objective, and so actors come to perceive political education as biased or harmful and then intervene to create a new status quo that aligns with their beliefs. However, because, again, political education cannot be objective, sometime in the future as beliefs shift and change a new group will have cause to intervene in the education system repeating the cycle. This model is useful to those who want to understand specific cases of political interference in the education system and curriculum, as it provides a broad framework for the interpretation of these incidents.

Stop the Steal: The Myth of Voter Fraud and Its Impact on Voter ID Laws
Mimi DeRossett
Professor: Richter

The ability to vote and participate in democracy is an essential American right that, in theory, should bring citizens from both sides of the partisan landscape together. But what if you showed up to the polls on election day just to realize that your voice in democracy became less important because you did not have the proper government identification required to vote? This Advocacy White Paper explores this question and analyzes the impact that voter fraud claims have on voter ID laws. It also explains how voter ID laws affect American democracy and minority voters and provides the solution of automatic voter registration to fix voter suppression caused by strict voter ID laws.

Session 5, Breaking Barriers: Empowering Marginalized Communities (Friday, March 1st, 10am)

B201, Level B2, Ames Hall

Moderator: LJ Johnson, Gelman Library Staff and MLIS Candidate

The Relationship Between Low-Income and the Nutrition of Individuals in Urban Environments
Jordyn Walters
Professor: Barlow

Many individuals in low-income communities do not have access to high-quality grocery stores that provide them with the option of creating a well-rounded and nutritious meal, causing increased rates of physical health issues in this specific population. These dietary habits and household conditions formed inside of food deserts are passed down and/or experienced by all that live in the household, affecting entire generations. The factors that contribute to the deficiencies in the nutrition of individuals in urban areas will only be increased if left untreated and if there is no effort to reevaluate the way in which we structure these communities. This paper will examine the relationship between low-income, nutrition, and urban environments and the current policies in place to alleviate the issues associated with food deserts. This paper recommends there be a policy that addresses the need for transportation to supermarkets, less restrictions on the usage of SNAP, food stamps, and EBT benefits at grocery stores, structural changes to create a more anti-racist healthcare system, zoning laws that limit the amount of fast-food restaurants in a given area, and laws that require at least a certain about of supermarkets in a community based on population density and geography.

Arctic Refugees: Deconstructing Narratives of Alaska Natives and Seeking Solutions for Climate Displacement in the Arctic
Aliyah Pelley-Livingston
Professor: Hijazi

For decades, climate change has silently chipped away at miles of ice in the Arctic. For centuries, the Inupiaq and Yupik, among several other indigenous tribes have created vibrant and mobile cultures across the present-day state of Alaska before they battled the seizure of their indigenous land by colonizers. These two conflicts collide in Arctic Alaska, where Alaska Native Villages sit at the precipice of rising sea levels, infrastructural damage, and food scarcity. As I pinpoint the current insufficiencies in the U.S. disaster management legislature, my research explores the indigenous and colonial history of land rights in Alaska, emphasizing the institutional barriers that prevent tribal entities from protecting or relocating their own communities. I go on to emphasize how Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations can empower these communities where the government has not, and how Native Alaskans’ futures must be placed back into their own hands.

Session 6, Civic Rights Advocacy in America's Major Cities (Friday, March 1st, 11:30am)

B101, Level B1, Ames Hall

Moderator: Daphna Atias, Educational Developer, Instructional Core

Rats in NYC: A Study in Risk Communication
Liam Robins (presenting via Zoom)
Professor: Sauer

My paper is all about rats in New York City and how the government is managing (or failing to manage) them. I start by discussing the risk of rats to the health, property, and overall well-being of New Yorkers. I provide a history of the different policies and statements of Mayor Eric Adams regarding rats, and use data to discover whether those policies have worked to reduce NYC’s rat population. I analyze government press releases to determine if government officials are employing effective risk communication techniques. I conduct surveys of New Yorkers to augment this analysis. Finally, based on the information above, I offer recommendations for how government officials can improve their communication about rats.

Disenfranchisement at the Seat of Power: The Case for DC Statehood
Eli Brown
Professor: Richter

This project is a white paper advocating for Washington DC to become a US state. The project examines the power of DC citizens in both the federal government and the local DC government. It further analyzes the unjust nature of the power of DC’s citizens in comparison to citizens of other states. In addition, the project outlines why the current situation for DC voters is problematic by comparing the power of DC citizens to American ideals of voting. Finally, the paper proposes that to fix this problem DC must be made a full state and explains why anything less will not solve the lack of power DC’s voters have.

Session 7, Truth, Beauty, and Footnotes: What Poetry Can Teach You About Research (Friday, March 1st, 11:30am)

B201, Level B2, Ames Hall

Moderator: Robin Marcus, Professorial Lecturer of Writing, University Writing Program

Nour Burik, Noemi Donenfeld, Rowa Nowari, Grace O'Keefe, Liana Peterson, Hanna Simoes
Professor: Myers

Maybe you think poetry is true because it’s about how you feel? Well, did you know that there as a growing body of contemporary poetry that relies heavily on research, citation, and documentation? In this roundtable Nour Burik, Noemi Donenfeld, Rowa Nawari, Grace O’Keefe, Liana Peterson, and Hanna Simoes read their original research-based poetry and discuss the enormous range of sources that can be incorporated into academic research projects and the importance of being self-aware about both your own point of view and the points of view represented by your sources. 

Session 8, Charting Public Memory and Reclaiming the Narrative (Friday, March 1st, 1pm)

B101, Level B1, Ames Hall

Moderator: Gordon Mantler, Executive Director, University Writing Program, Associate Professor of Writing and of History

The Legacy of World War I in the Eyes of a New Memorial
Cate Conde
Professor: Mantler

The role of public memorials is to appropriately educate and inform the viewer of the chosen event, to the best of its ability. Various components compromise such memorials, attempting to tell the complete story of a historical event and honor its significance. World War I, even with its prominence in the establishment of modern warfare, is often overshadowed by World War II and forgotten from public memory. The revitalized National World War I Memorial, located at Pershing Park in Washington D.C., attempts to reclaim the narrative of World War I and educate the public of its significance. Opened in 2021, the park was re-designed, combining elements of the original memorial dedicated to General John J. Pershing and the American Expeditionary Forces that previously stood in its place, while adding additional features, such as a new fountain and sculptural wall. This project analyzes to what extent the revitalization efforts proved successful, critiquing the new architectural design, the memorial's chosen location and the controversy that surrounded its establishment. It additionally analyzes the role and influence that public memory serves when attempting to craft sufficient memorials that will best educate the public and honor the fallen.

Maia Medley
Professor: Richter

The prompt included creating a conclusive White Paper focusing on voter suppression within modern America. For my project, I focused on Washington, D.C.'s lack of statehood and the glaring undemocratic reality of D.C. residents. By highlighting D.C.'s history within the 21st perspective of federalism, I argue that there is a bipartisan constitutional imperative to pass the current D.C. Statehood bill H.R. 51.

“We are at War”: A Framing analysis of the Israel – Hamas War of 2023. Is There True Difference in Reporting Between This War and the Many Others from the Past?
Jeremy Bach
Professor: Svoboda

This research project was a study based on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. A framing and agenda-setting analysis was conducted based on the printed front pages of newspapers from the United States and other international sources in the context of the Israel Hamas that began on October 7th, 2023. By using agenda-setting and framing analysis to consider the bias of the paper by looking at the language, and size of the article on the front page of the printed paper, one can expect to find that US Newspapers will be similar, based on diction, and coverage of the article with a bias leaning more towards Israel, however, there will be sharp differences with international papers and their willingness to point blame and the use strong word choices that will cause public opinion to be swayed, in a specific manner. The study analyzes ten American newspapers and twelve international papers to see if a difference exists between media coverage of this war from around the world. This research paper emphasizes the role newspapers play in swaying public opinion and the importance of a free press at a time when the political implications of this war can have detrimental effects on groups and individuals.

Session 9, Dismantling Societal Inequities (Friday, March 1st, 1pm)

B201, Level B2, Ames Hall

Moderator: Jocelyne Brant, Assistant Professor of French Language and Literature

Reversing Self-Talk: A Framework for Adolescent Athletes to Optimize Performance
Mayah Pedigo
Professor: Michiels
While contemporary literature works to comprehensively define and categorize the effects of self-talk on athletic performance, it often neglects to advise the implementation of such strategies. When it does, the intended audience is typically coaches, sport psychologists, or other researchers rather than athletes themselves. Aiming to provide an accessible resource for young athletes without an expert coach or psychologist at their disposal, this paper first summarizes the current body of research, then suggests and supports three researched strategies to reverse detrimental self-talk practices in exchange for performance-enhancing alternatives: using instructional self-talk as a neutralizing agent; emphasizing personal autonomy to athletes in training; and adding a motivational statement to negative self-talk. If properly utilized, the recommendations within this research will help to create a more equitable environment where every young athlete regardless of age, level, or affiliation with expert coaches can make their own, educated decisions to accurately employ self-talk as a tool to weaponize performance.

The Social, Biological Technological Innovation,  and Mental Health Impacts of Bone Marrow Transplants
Julianna Chavez
Professor: Barlow

An estimated 1.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with leukemia at some point in their lifetime. While the percentage of those estimated to be diagnosed may seem low, the reality is that tens of thousands of men and women will receive this life altering diagnosis each year, and in 2023 alone, approximately 60,000 individuals have been diagnosed with a form of leukemia, and an estimated 24,000 individuals succumbed to their illness in 2023. There are various treatment options to prolong the survival of a leukemia patient, such as chemotherapy and radiation, however, there are many cases where these forms of treatment are ineffective, and a patient’s only hope is a life saving bone marrow transplant. The impacts of bone marrow transplants go far beyond saving the life of a single patient; mental health improvement, social well being and biological technological innovation are all accomplished.

Words Break Bones: How Media Biases During The Syrian Refugee Crisis Impacted Audiences
Sarah Boside
Professor: Hijazi

My research project explores Islamophobic and anti-Arab biases in American news media, with a focus on the coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis. I evaluate four core components of media bias: how to identify them, how they influence non-target populations into perpetrating hate, how that hostility affects the health of target populations who are (or are perceived as) Arab or Muslim, and how to best reduce bias by evaluating potential solutions. I conclude that media training and crowdsourced alternative platforms, such as social media, are the most effective; since most bias is implicit and persists through legacy media platforms that are seen as more credible, such as CNN or the New York Times, my project trains academics who consume these media types regularly to question embedded anti-Arab and Islamophobic language they might have otherwise absorbed. In doing so, my research also points out the power social media has in providing Muslims and Arabs the agency to tell their stories to a broader, more diverse audience, challenging biased narratives they have less power to fight in less accessible media establishments.

Session 10, Conservative Backlash: The Problem of Othering (Friday, March 1st, 2:30pm)

B101, Level B1, Ames Hall

Moderator: Joseph Trullinger, Assistant Professor of Honors and Philosophy

“Feminism Under Fire: The War on Terror's Impact on Muslim Communities”
Janey Wetzel
Professor: Abbas

My paper focused on the negative impacts the War on Terror has had on the fight for equal rights in Muslim communities. In summary, the war has led to increased militarization, poverty, unemployment, and gender-based violence. It has also resulted in the rollback of women's rights in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Women's rights activists in these countries have faced increased threats and violence.

Additionally, the war has also created a hostile environment for Muslim women in the United States. They have been subjected to discrimination, Islamophobia, and hate crimes. This has made it difficult for Muslim women to participate fully in society and to exercise their rights. Furthermore, the war on terror has hurt the progress of Muslim feminism. It has undermined the agency and autonomy of Muslim women, and it has made it difficult for them to fight for gender equality. My paper concluded with an overview of how these impacts can be addressed by communicating the necessity to end the war, address the root causes of terrorism, and to create a more inclusive and just society for everyone, regardless of religion or gender.

Culture War of the Green M&M: Inclusivity or ‘Wokeness’ Gone Too Far?
Iris Chan
Professor: Fletcher

The cultural and political implications of the transformation of the green M&M, from a stereotypically feminine and sexualized figure to a more androgynous representation, prompted a divisive response from conservatives. The controversy is a microcosm of larger debates on gender, sexuality, and inclusivity in American society. This essay explores the psychoanalytic dynamics behind the sexualization of the green M&M and its impact on traditional gender norms. Additionally, the role of advertising in shaping social cognition and implicit brand cognitions, emphasizes the need for businesses to balance consumer expectations with social responsibility. Critiquing both conservative backlash and corporate responses, this essay concludes with a call for individuals to leverage their purchasing decisions as a form of accountability. Ultimately, the green M&M controversy illustrates the far-reaching influence of advertising on cultural narratives and societal perceptions.

How the Other Stole Christmas:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas as commentary on dehumanization and cultural assimilation
Olivia Occhipinti
Professor: Tomlinson

The film How the Grinch Stole Christmas(2000) is a Christmas classic that tells the tale of a “heartless” green creature living on the outskirts of the fictional town of Whoville, created by Dr. Seuss. Interwoven with elements of fantasy and comedy, the movie craftfully illustrates the ostrasization and forced assimilation experienced by marginalized communities. Whether it be the Grinch’s isolation from the rest of Whoville, or the hateful way that he is discussed amongst the Whos, it is clear that the Grinch is Othered not only for looking different but for not wanting to adopt the Whos' culture. This paper delves into the phenomenon of Othering across various contexts, touching on concepts like White national identity, intergroup theory, and broadly, the mistreatment of those who differ from the majority. Through a close analysis of the film, I will counter the assumption that the Grinch is the perpetrator of evil and, instead, express how the demonization of the Grinch’s individuality is representative of Americans dehumanizing groups we refuse to understand. Most importantly, this paper will provide a framework for understanding the repercussions of Othering and forced assimilation on cultures and communities in our society.

Session 11, The Politics of Sustainability (Friday, March 1st, 2:30pm)

B201, Level B2, Ames Hall

Moderator: Jacob Richter, Teaching Assistant Professor of Writing

The Emerging Climate Crises and Mental Health: An Analysis of Gen Z Op-Eds on Climate Change and Its Effects on Mental Health
Anna Kelley
Professor: Svoboda

In response to the recent increase in extreme weather, natural disasters, and diagnosed anxiety, this study utilized Moral Foundations Theory, agenda-setting and framing, and stasis analysis to analyze 33 op-eds written since the summer of 2018. The op-eds were chosen under the condition that they center around climate change or an adjacent topic– such as climate change policy–and those that addressed the mental health impact, directly or indirectly, were favored. The authors of these op-eds were selected to represent the younger generation–Gen Z and late Millennials–who were either climate activists or climate skeptics to compare the presence or level of climate anxiety between the different climate viewpoints. Findings indicated that climate activists had a greater consistency throughout op-eds and frequency within each op-ed of climate anxiety. The impacts of this study are relevant for researchers of the increase in the mental health crisis and for future policy propositions concerning climate change, specifically made by or for younger generations.

Free Markets and Climate Change: A Relational Study of Economic Freedom and CO2 Emissions within the Framework of the Environmental Kuznets Curve
Esther Ki
Professor: Janzen

Throughout the past several decades, the rising of Earth’s temperature has raised concerns about its impact on human life. In response to this problem, governments have primarily relied on regulatory means to lower the emission of greenhouse gases and prevent other environmental harms. The assumption is that the regulation of economic activity is necessary for a better environment, that perhaps the two are simply incompatible. However, the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesizes that economic development and a cleaner environment can not only coexist, but that there is an inverted U-shaped relationship between economic growth and environmental degradation. Taking the EKC into consideration, this study challenges the view that economic freedom and climate sustainability are incompatible by examining the relationship between the economic freedom scores of 144 countries and their respective CO2 emissions in 2019.

Debt's Drag on the Chinese Economy
Gabe Pinsker
Professor: Janzen
My paper makes clear that unsustainable debt levels point to a Chinese economy that is weakening. As measured by statistics such as total social financing, debt to GDP growth, and more, China’s borrowing is accelerating. This increase is despite the fact that China’s nonfinancial corporate debt is at risky levels as determined by the Federal Reserve (Armstrong-Taylor 2019, 136). Borrowing is also decreasing productivity growth and the consumption rate. Total factor productivity and labor productivity are suffering because China is getting less growth for every dollar it invests as its infrastructure needs are met. My model also found that mortgage debt has decreased China’s consumption rate by 0.00849% from 2017 to 2018. 
The implication of these statistics for China’s future is clear. Elevated debt increases the risk of an economic downturn. Reduced productivity growth may prevent China from becoming a rich nation. Lastly, a decrease in China’s consumption rate will hamper efforts to reform the economy so that its growth will be more sustainable.

Special Event - Study Hall Free for All: Research and Writing Open House (Friday, March 1st, 3-5pm)

Eckles Library

*Register Here! - GW Form - access via GW email

Did you attend a panel at the University Writing and Research Conference? Do you feel inspired to tackle your own UW1020 project? Want to talk with some research and writing experts about the ideas you’ve come up with or the roadblocks you are facing?

Join GW Librarians, University Writing Program faculty members, and Writing Center consultants for an informal - yet informative – writing and research reception at Eckles Library. There will be food, drink, and conversations about research and writing! Faculty and consultants will be on hand to answer questions, discuss students’ writing projects, and just chat about the joys (and frustrations) of writing.
*Registration appreciated, but not required. Didn't register? Show up anyway!
Session 12, The Social Medium: Dutch and Flemish Society in Golden Age Portraiture (Friday, March 1st, 4pm)

B101, Level B1, Ames Hall

Moderator: Shira Eller, Art and Design Librarian, Gelman Library

Samantha Dessler, Lauren Golla, Markus Vrbanac, Ruth Campos, Walker Szczecina, Svetha Ramayanapu
Professor: Pollack

During the 17th century, in Northern Europe, portraiture was a “Social Medium”, that represented popular culture that appealed to the public. Our group exhibition is constructed from the general belief that portraiture is a reaction to the action of the ebbs and flow of society. Just as artifacts of the past provide insight into societies before ours, portraiture is unique as it forever encapsulates the generational values of its time.

This exhibition discusses the likes of Frans Hals who dove into an emerging revolution of portraiture and Rembrandt van Rijn with his tronies that defined the Dutch Golden Age and likewise perplex modern art historians. We analyze the art and lives of Michiel Jansz Van Mierevelt, one of the most sought after portraitists of the European elites, Aelbert Cuyp whose highly unusual artistic journey depicts the social atmosphere of the time, and Sir Anthony Van Dyck whose portraits of the Stuart court defined upper class society in the years leading up to the English Civil War. Through these masters of 17th century portraiture, we explore a myriad of ways that the Dutch and Flemish artists would use their talents to depict the whims of their wealthy clientele and capture the inner character of the people they portrayed.

Session 13, Nude Art: The Blatant and Beautiful Body (Friday, March 1st, 4pm)

B201, Level B2, Ames Hall

Moderator: Shelly Buring, Rare Books and Research Specialist, Gelman Special Collections Research Center

Alyssa Jung, Bianca Agata, Abigail Dubuisson, Olivia Waters, Lucas Farhat, James Pomian
Professor: Pollack

The unclothed human body is ubiquitous across all forms of Greek art. Nudity was a way to celebrate the human form and its connection to divinity, athleticism, eroticism, and even the grotesque. In both sculpture and painting, ancient Greek artists can be seen attempting to encapsulate the pinnacle of beauty by perfecting the depiction of the human body. Looking at the transitions from the Archaic to the Classical to the Hellenistic, nudity remains a constant motif, yet the concept of the ideal form changes to reflect the values of the time period. This exhibition offers a glimpse into the world of the Greek nude, from the ideal to the grotesque. 

In antiquity, the athletic body was considered to be the zenith of beauty and indeed, in the ancient Olympic Games and the other Panhellenic Games, participants were lauded and enjoyed an elite social status. In Ancient Greece men were the importance of society and the perception of a man's masculinity was heavily portrayed through the physicality of many heroic nude sculptures with heavily and lightly outlined bodies and exaggerated muscles. This exhibition also touches on the ideal female nude, specifically on different Aphrodite types and the poses of these female sculptures. Erotic images and depictions of genitalia were widely expressed in the ancient Greek artistic world, celebrating the beauty of the human form. The interpretations on the complexity and subjectiveness of beauty of deformed, disfigured and distorted beings testify to the grotesque methods also seen. Altogether, this exhibition aims to analyze each genre of Greek nude sculpture from ideal to grotesque and explore their implications in the modern world.


Session 14, Amplifying Unrepresented Voices (Friday, March 1st, 5:10pm)

B101, Level B1, Ames Hall

Moderator: Peter Cohn, Director of Research Services, The George Washington University Libraries

Something Greater than this World: Exploring the Tenets of Africanfuturism
Jordan Grossman
Professor: Kristensen
Africanfuturism is a compelling new genre of science fiction that focuses on Africa and African stories. It is distinguished by its propensity to break unwritten rules of fiction and society, conscious grounding in mysticism and alternate possibilities, repudiation of colonialism and regrowth from it, and unabashed and optimistic approach to solving the problems of the world today and tomorrow. This paper attempts to identify these tenets in africanfuturist writing and analyze authors’ motivations for contributing to the genre.

Cultural Conservation in the Digital Age: Empowering Indigenous Voices through Social Media
Luis Perez, Ankita Saxena, Anisa Ga’al
Professor: Quave

By synthesizing our individual research papers, we leveraged social media to create a collaborative project that focuses on empowering and amplifying Indigenous voices. Central to our mission was highlighting Native American culture with a particular emphasis on tangible artifacts, notably jewelry.  Moreover, we explored the innovative archaeological technologies that are used for material preservation. Utilizing an Instagram account as our platform, we were able to emphasize the ability of social media to foster a deeper understanding of the past with the technologies of the present.



Session 15, Troubling Cycles: Towards a More Equitable and Inclusive Society (Friday, March 1st, 5:10pm)

B201, Level B2, Ames Hall

Moderator: Christopher Brick, Professional Lecturer of Honors, The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers

A Cycle of Disaster: Risk Communication Practices in the Aviation Security System Preceding the September 11th Attacks
Ben Wieser
Professor: Sauer

On September 11th, 2001, 19 men exploited well-known weaknesses in the aviation security system to perpetrate the largest terrorist attack ever committed on American soil. In the wake of September 11th, scrutiny quickly fell on the aviation security system, particularly the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency then charged with regulating aviation security. A review of publicly available reports from the FAA, the General Accounting Office (GAO), and various academic sources reveals that these security issues, including the possibility of a suicide hijacking, were well known prior to the September 11th Attacks. However, because of persistent institutional norms, the threats were poorly communicated, received, and transformed into substantive action within the FAA and the aviation security system. Viewing the agency’s handling of security issues through a larger analysis of risk communication practices within the aviation security system reveals a troubling cycle dependent on disaster to implement substantive threat mitigation procedures.

Showing A Police Killing: Movement Building or Disrespectful Exploitation?
Desi Clickenger
Professor: Kristensen

The project is about the video of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police and examines the question of if it was an overall good to share the video on social media. It explores the ways violent images can be used to amplify social movements and if the movement following the George Floyd video resulted in a tangible change in policing. The paper also explores what ways the video was traumatic or had a negative impact on the public, especially the Black community. The project engages with academic literature on sociology and culture, especially that relating to police brutality, social media, and movements for social progress.

The Potential of the Digital Economy in Bangladesh
Ryaan Aqid
Professor: Abbas

The global digital revolution is reshaping societies worldwide, presenting both challenges and opportunities for economic and social transformation. Developing countries like Bangladesh find themselves at a pivotal moment, where the digital economy offers unique opportunities to bridge longstanding socio-economic gaps and foster inclusive development. With Bangladesh’s limited involvement in the digital economy, initiatives such as mobile banking services and government-led digital literacy programs have already opened doors to greater financial inclusion. These efforts are essential for empowering marginalised communities, providing them with access to previously unavailable resources and opportunities. Moreover, e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces are becoming vital channels for economic participation, enabling individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to showcase their products and services to a global audience. Bangladesh's limited experience exemplifies the potential of the digital economy to level the playing field and empower the marginalised in Bangladesh, offering a pathway towards a more equitable and inclusive society on a global scale. Through strategic investments in digital infrastructure and innovative policies, Bangladesh can harness the transformative power of technology to drive socio-economic progress and uplift marginalised communities.


Mount Vernon Campus Ames Hall 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington DC 20052
Room: B101 & B201

Open to everyone.

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