English Department

CLU Festival of Scholars

The Festival of Scholars provides students in the College of Arts and Sciences with the opportunity to showcase their original research and projects. The weeklong celebration of student scholarship culminates with a reception honoring the students. Students whose work is chosen as the top selection from each of the four divisions (Humanities, Creative Arts, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences) receive an Outstanding Research/Project Award and are asked to present their work.

2016 English Capstone Presentations

Date: Monday, April 25, 2016
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Overton Hall
Description: English majors deliver papers and presentations as part of their senior Capstone experience, a year-long process combining independent and mentored research and creative writing. Students’ work reflects a high level of academic achievement and has likely been presented, in part or in full, at regional and national undergraduate conferences such as the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society.
Student(s):
Hannah Andrews

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Repurposing Literature Circles to Meet Common Core Standards
The relase of test scores following the implementation of the Common Core in California has signaled educators, teachers, government officials, and the general publicthat a renewed focus on curriculum and innovative teaching methods are needed. The search is on for educational objectives that possess crossover qualities with the Common Core. Instead of focusing only on new teaching techniques, teachers will be redesigning and repurposing successful pedagogical methods to be appropriate for the Secondary level. Literature Circles are an existing method that, if revised, would benefit the Secondary level English classroom. I demonstrate how the traditional structure of Literature Circles, repurposed to incorporate mmore intesive student jobs and integrate non-fiction, would be useful to teachers trying to meet the shifts of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards.


Student(s):
Caleb Arndt

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Travel Writing and Manifest Destiny: The Creation and Interrogation of an American Ideal
Richard Nordquist’s definition of travel writing as “a form of creative non-fiction” can be applied to the texts of early explorers and settlers like Columbus, John Smith, and William Bradford as well as the later reports of westward expansion by Lewis and Clark. These and other early journey narratives intentionally affirmed American ideologies. John Smith was particularly interested in promoting the concept of Manifest Destiny. Later writers including Twain, Kerouac, and Steinbeck began a modern interrogation of the philosophical assumptions of those early narratives. As they integrated journey narratives into the literature of American fiction, these authors shifted from championing blanket American ideology through deconstructing them. Emphasizing the experience of the individual during travel, their more personal narratives echoed disillusionment with Manifest Destiny, privileging the nuanced experience of the individual over loyalty to a national identity. This helped expand the national perspective about diversity and opened the door to popularizing the travel writing of previously marginalized writers.


Student(s):
Margaret Bell

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
The Role of Audience in the Evolution of Myth and Fairytales

Mythology and fairytale are two of the most tenacious and resilient of literary genres. Elements of myth and even of some fairytales have been incorporated into the majority of the fantasy literature written today.Myths and fairytales have undergone significant changes in their long history, and researching their evolution reveals that it is the fairytales that have endured the most radical transformation. Unlike myths, which emerged as narrative explanations in response to mystifying events and phenomena, fairytales were for the most part created to illustrate life lessons and teach morals. Myths, on the other hand, became increasingly important and weighty as they were intertwined and identified with ideological and political networks. The myths were somewhat altered but mostly remained bound to what some have identified as their 8thcentury B.C. origins. Fairytales, though, beginning in the 1600’s, were different. They changed dramatically, acclimating naturally to each time and place where they were retold and rewritten. I demonstrate how audience is an important factor in accounting for this difference—as fairytales have always been directed towards children rather than the general public, while myths, not intended for small children but important in stabilizing communities, are less adaptable and have tended to retain their original forms.


Student(s):
Theresa Duncan

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
The Grim Realism of 21st Century Dystopian Literature

Over the course of the past two centuries the Dystopian genre has seen an unprecedented rise in popularity. With the increase of technological innovation, tumultuous warfare, environmental catastrophe, and the prevalence of psychological and social disorders, Dystopias seem to have become a sanctuary of sorts-- a natural medium in order to provide a discourse on how to navigate in these confusing and uncertain times (and a way in which to understand our ominous future predicaments in a safe and scholarly arena). Just as our society evolves, so too does the Dystopian genre. Previous prominent Dystopian novels like Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, and 1984 focus on Dystopian universes where citizens live in a totalitarian society within a militarized state. Surveillance, subjugation and total control are common motifs and warn against a society where governments take away freedoms. In the twenty first century, the Dystopian genre seems to have evolved into something else entirely. Still mimicking some of the motifs of past Dystopias, three contemporary novels, specifically Oryx and Crake, The Wind-Up Girl, and Cloud Atlas, branch off and explore frightening and compelling new topics-- how to survive in a world of continuously decreasing resources, of overpopulation, and of the threat and competition of human subspecies. These novels form a more realistic social critique of a Dystopian future that is becoming more and more possible for our techno-culture world, appearing no longer to be fiction, but frightening prophecies of a future that is looming around the corner.


Student(s):
Emily Engler

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines

Tracing Changing Perspectives on Eugenics in Huxley and in American and British Law

Aldous Huxley’s dual mindedness and the evolution of his opinions on eugenics mirror society’s stance on the issue—a stance that can be demonstrated by examining changes in both American and British legal codes relative to eugenics. Eugenics was of vital interest to many in British and American legal and intellectual communities in the early twentieth century. British interest was grounded on fears of overpopulation, inheritable diseases, and a perceived decrease in intelligence of the British citizenry, while American eugenicists were more interested in restricting diversity and minimizing marginalized groups. When Hitler cited American eugenics as inspiration and justification for his views on Aryan supremacy, a radical shift in opinions about eugenics took place in Britain and the U.S. alike (1933). Aldous Huxley provides a clear example of this shift as we trace his change of mind in his work. During the 1920-30s he was a staunch supporter of eugenics both in his writings and within the intellectual community; however, in his novel Brave New World (1932) the society he set up on eugenics principles plays out as a dismal utopia. After the fall of Hitler’s regime, Huxley still encouraged countries to alter their ethics to allow eugenics, but emphasized that the toxic combination of eugenics with nationalism was to be avoided at all costs.

Student(s):
Carissa Faulk

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
The Fiction Bridge: Using Fiction as a Tool for Teaching Content Areas in the Common Core Classroom
The relatively new Common Core state standards emphasize the development of students’ literacy skills for reading complex informational texts, and it places the burden of teaching literacy on all teachers, not just language arts teachers. Fiction is a tool that teachers can use in any content area to develop skilled readers and critical thinkers. Bringing fiction into the secondary-level content classroom will increase the amount of reading that students are engaging in overall, which will help remove the anxiety that many students feel towards reading. It can serve as a tool for introducing difficult concepts and developing content-specific vocabulary that can then make reading informational texts less intimidating for students. It will also deepen students’ understanding of complex topics and empower them to think in nuanced, critical ways. Reading fiction in content classrooms can empower students to be capable, confident readers and thinkers and will help achieve the Common Core literacy standards.

Student(s):
Megan Freiberg

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Metafictional Comics as Postmodern Literature
Studying postmodern authors increases our understanding of complex narrative strategies and techniques. Their texts stimulate critical thinking partly by collaging fragmented narratives in strategic and thought-provoking ways. So too can the texts of graphic narratives. The metafictional comic in particular argues for inclusion in the category of postmodern literature—as it generates a similar result through its creative use of narrative techniques and, further, can complicate narrative as it works with intriguing combinations of visual and verbal rhetoric. Using Art Spiegelman’s popular metafictional comic "Maus," I first identify the following typical postmodern techniques and conventions in Maus’s graphic narrative: intertextuality, reflexivity, fragmentation, and pastiche (all of which are commonly used by postmodern authors). Secondly, I demonstrate how Maus’s provocative visual-verbal dynamic promotes critical analysis as much—and perhaps even more—as does the study of postmodern literature.


Student(s):
Jamie Wood

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Cross-Dressers as Morally Superior Characters in Renaissance Drama

Prescribed dress codes have historically provided insight about social status and the behaviours associated with that status. During the Renaissance, aristocratic rank was, as S.P. Cerasano writes, “theoretically the mark of moral, intellectual, and emotional superiority.” Theoretically is the key word here. The interests and activities of some in the well-dressed upper class were often perceived as inconsistent with “moral, intellectual, and emotional superiority.” But this perception didn’t stop some from dressing “above” their social rank in order to gain advantages denied to them by cultural class constraints—even though their efforts often resulted in public ridicule rather than upper class advantages. “Dressing up” was not confined to those who wanted to appear to belong to the aristocracy. Other societal rogues included women who dressed as men. Such women were ostracized and even criminalized. Examples of cross-class and cross-gender dressing in Renaissance drama not only satirize the hypocrisy of the upper class but also serve to mitigate the harsh public judgment of women cross-dressers by emphasizing the virtues of cross-dressing characters. Shakespeare’s contemporaries, Dekker and Middleton, create cross-dressing Moll Cutpurse in The Roaring Girl as the only character in the play with moral integrity. And Shakespeare’s Viola, perhaps the best example of a cross dresser’s defense against social marginalization, is the most moral person in Twelfth Night. These and other Renaissance characters continued to insist that moral integrity is not determined by social class or dress, but rather by an individual’s beliefs and actions.


Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Overton Hall
Description: English majors deliver papers and presentations as part of their senior Capstone experience, a year-long process combining independent and mentored research and creative writing. Students’ work reflects a high level of academic achievement and has likely been presented, in part or in full, at regional and national undergraduate conferences such as the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society.
Student(s):
Evan Carthen

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Social Issues and Picture Books

Graphic novels have often been characterized as the public’s choice for easy, informal reading and nothing more. Despite this disparaging reputation, the graphic novel, in its many-faceted narrative, seeks to explore the evolving dialogues and conditions of our society. Examples include Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, The Boondocks: “Because I Know You Don’t Read the Newspaper” by Aaron McGruder, and American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, all of which bring very different issues to the forefront: wartime and the hero complex, racial issues, and the individual’s struggles with identity. Although different in their emphases, these novels, like other graphic texts, help present and promote social dialogue and a wider public understanding of the complex issues that are imbedded in our social fabric. These multifaceted graphic depictions are also important to clarify an otherwise often complex political landscape that affects American culture every day.


Student(s):
Karina Da Silva

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Decapitatig the Glamour of Arthurian Romance

“Beheaded by an elf-man, for empty pride!” With these words, wary onlookers watch as Sir Gawain valiantly searches for the mysterious “Knight of the Green Chapel” so that the latter can return the blow in a “beheading game.” Sir Gawain and the Green Knight shares the basic quest structure of earlier Arthurian Romances; however, by the time of its late 14th century debut, medieval European readers were no longer enchanted by a code of chivalry that came across as unattainable and artificial. In this context, the Pearl Poet’s characters are aware that Sir Gawain’s “quest” to validate his sense of worth is a purely performative act of ritual and play. This awareness serves to satirize the traditional chivalric code and to emphasize the growing social dissatisfaction with its outmoded conventions. Gawain’s journey to the Green Chapel is not marked with descriptions of heroic adventures he has along the way. Instead, the Pearl Poet condenses Gawain’s exploits into a few lines and focuses instead on the passage of time, the cycle of exchange, and the changing of appearance. His manipulation of time and place reveals Gawain’s seemingly straightforward “quest” as a highly stylized series of rituals that highlight his chivalry as a temporal and ultimately scripted illusion concocted by the infamous shapeshifter, Morgan le Fay. The poet wanted not only to break away from the common chivalric-laden conventions of traditional Arthurian quest tales, but to also tear the veil from the text’s structure and reveal who was really telling the story.



Student(s):
Chloe Holt

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Harry Potter: Two Heroes in One

Though relegated to the children’s section of bookstores, the Harry Potter series incorporates traditional classical elements. The epic hero, particularly, stimulates the interest of young readers in mature traditions and therefore (or at least arguably) calls for the inclusion of theseries in a “more advanced” literary canon. Even as the hero has undergone significant changes, it has maintained its elevated position, and many characteristics of the classical heroes in theIliad and theOdyssey remain obvious in today’s popular “modern heroes.” That’s as true of the hero Harry Potter as it is of others. If we want, however, a definition for a “modern” epic hero, we can find one in the differences that separate Potter from the traditional epic hero. For although Potter fits within Joseph Campbell’s conventional descriptions of the hero (who goes on a journey to fix problems in his society), he is pointedly different than the typical kingly hero of the traditional epic. His differences generate sympathy with younger readers. They also identify important changes that help define the modern epic hero—his orphan status, his underprivileged background, and his vulnerability to the overpowering political structures that surround him. While this patchwork hero was created in the tradition of ancient tales and many of his heroic qualities match those catalogued by Campbell, the incorporation of the attributes of the “modern” hero assures that Potter will continue to invite the attention of young students and, hopefully, of more mature audiences as well.


Student(s):
Kayla Johnson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Collective Voices: Revisiting the POst WWI Literary Communities of Paris

The recent terrorist attacks have perhaps given us a somewhat clearer understanding of the catastrophic effects of war. This realization was brought home to me when I lived in Paris at the time of the shocking and devastatingNovember 2015 attacks in that city. People sought out communal contact to share common emotions, conversations, and assurances about their collective humanity. This atmosphere brought to mind the expatriate writers who congregated in Paris following WWI. Participating in the widespread response to its unsettling aftermath, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and others formed an interconnected community based on the mutual need to share their reactions to the tragedies of war and the demands of change. They did this by writing—and by distributing their work to each other and to the public at large through the generous support of people like Sylvia Beach. Her bookstore became a cohesive force for the vibrant mixture of publishers, poets, and artists whose work helps identify the specifics of the community’s interests. A study of Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast does this intimately, revealing not only these specifics, but also the ways in which the need for change—for reforming, reformulating, and reconstructing, helped create strong underlying bonds in the literary “lost generation.”


Student(s):
Alyssa McAfee

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines

Methods of Desensitization in Three Dystopian Texts

In many dystopian novels, the characters are citizens who follow the bizarre rules, laws, and expectations of some corrupt authoritarian “government.” Most of these citizens, having been brainwashed into accepting a variety of social injustices, have become desensitized to the reality of their circumstances. Three dystopian texts--Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993), and Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (2008)--will serve as examples for how readily this desensitization can occur and how blind the fictional citizens are to their unsatisfactory conditions. Huxley’s citizens are desensitized by genetic manipulation and modified educational programming, Lowry’s characters become desensitized when their memories are eliminated, and Collins’s citizens are desensitized by the propaganda embedded into their history and education. Within these dystopian worlds, all three authors portray a significant character, a “whistle blower,” who informs or tries to inform the citizens that they have been desensitized. As these three novels progress from the fantastic world of Huxley’s Brave New World to the more realistic worlds of Lowry’s The Giver and Collins’s The Hunger Games, their fictional citizens also progress toward an increased awareness of their undesirable conditions. This awareness, arguably, is meant to alert readers to the desensitizing forces and various flaws in their own societies.

Student(s):
Meisha Mossayebi

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Print Publishing: Can It Survive in a Digital World?

Low cost and easily accessible electronic texts have been a major challenge to the print publishing industry, especially in the past five years. Exacerbated by rising production costs, the industry’s problems have forced it into a transition stage that requires major revamping in the context of its ever more intrusive competition--digitalization. It’s true that in some cases the demand for print materials has not declined but merely changed. Yet as print book sales have weakened for many publishers, the industry has needed to take some cues from its competition. Research indicates that print publishers are beginning to provide more interactive content, to engage new audiences in more imaginative ways, and to create and embrace any innovation that promises to keep the business thriving. The industry’s overall plan has been to switch from concentrating on marketing strategies to focusing on consumer-integrating strategies. At the same time, the industry is recognizing the value of adhering to some of its own traditional characteristics and procedures. Capitalizing on that value should mean that print publishing will remain alive and well—especially in an Information Age that is continuously producing unprecedented quantities of high-quality content, some of which is essential to specific audiences, and much of which needs to be distributed by print publishers.



2015 English Capstone Presentations

Date: Monday, April 27, 2015
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Overton Hall
Description: English majors deliver papers and presentations as part of their senior Capstone experience, a year-long process combining independent and mentored research and creative writing. Students’ work reflects a high level of academic achievement and has likely been presented, in part or in full, at regional and national undergraduate conferences such as the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society.
Student(s):
Megan Acosta

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Looking at The Scarlet Letter Through a Feminist Lens
My capstone presentation explores the 19th-century romance novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which I examine through a feminist lens. I put my research into the feminist features of Hawthorne’s novel in the context of my earlier high school exposure to it, which occurred in the context of a very conservative, Christian high school, which viewed the novel exclusively through its theme of adultery. In contrast, my concern in this presentation is the question of Hester Prynne, the main character, who was written as a strong female figure. I am interested in exploring why Hawthorne would choose to write such a strong female character in 19th century America, defying dominant gender and religious stereotypes. For my research, I examined various contemporary reviews of the novel, a biography about Nathaniel Hawthorne, the novel itself, and critical analyses. I examine characters, key scenes, and symbols, in order to take the feminist theme back to Hawthorne’s own personal life as he was writing this novel.
Student(s):
Sydney Carlson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Blended Worship: A Lutheran Response to the Worship Styles of the Charismatic Movement
Theologians have identified the major spiritual gifts in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians as the source for our understanding of the charismata. For centuries, most Western Christians saw the charismatic practices as outdated, radical, and overly emotional, as would also be the case in the twentieth century "Charismatic Movement." In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther had emphasized a rational rather than a charismatic approach to worship. He also, however, valued the emotional aspects of worship through music and used music to appeal to and include the less educated, less sophisticated members of Lutheran congregations. Luther's example of merging rather than polarizing rational and emotional styles of worship is reflected in the position of many of today's ELCA Lutherans, who, in response to the excesses of the Charismatic movement, are attempting to unify emotionalism and rationalism through "blended worship." After researching the debates about rational vs. charismatic worship style, I have concluded that a blended style of worship in the Lutheran church satisfies Paul's call for Christian unity as well as reinforces Luther's goal to educate Christians to worship rationally in the vernacular of the people.


Student(s):
Lauren Goss

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Steinbeck’s Grapes: A Defense of The Grapes of Wrath and Its Place in Higher Education
This research examines the arc of the public and scholarly reception of John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath and organizes an argument for the inclusion of the novel in collegiate level curricula. The Grapes of Wrath is simultaneously, and thus controversially, a political and an introspective novel; a Biblical and a scientific novel; a social-statement making and a best-selling novel. Controversy has plagued Wrath for decades and propelled it as well: it is included on Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels List above Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Despite its celebrity, the novel is used – when it is used – primarily as a literary primer to engage early high school students in the practice of identifying symbols. This project evaluates Wrath’s book review history, analyzes three critical editions of Wrath, and draws from author correspondence and ephemera to develop a critical summary of the text and to argue that its dissension must be used to promote its position in higher academia. The Grapes of Wrath is a valuable text because of its debatable nature and inability to be unanimously classified. Scholars must take this distinctive text as an opportunity to reflect upon our proclivity for strict categorizations of creativity and art and the effects of those lines being blurred.


Student(s):
Julie Griffin

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Expanding Foreign Language Instruction in the U.S.: Sooner, Later, or Never?
The dominance of the English language in the global community is both advantageous and detrimental to U.S. citizens. The prominent role that English plays on the world’s stage is perhaps partly responsible for the perception that Americans have no need to learn another language. Even with the current educational emphasis on diversity and globalization, most of our schools are not introducing a second language requirement until middle school or high school. Respected theorists, including Noam Chomsky and Danny Steinberg, agree that this is far too late for students to become well versed in a second language. What then stands in the way of expanding foreign language in the U.S? The objections to an immediate introduction of second language education in elementary schools are based principally upon cost, time, and the misguided mentality that elementary children are too young for second language education. These issues make it unlikely that such a quick solution could prevail. A gradual implementation of second language education into elementary school curricula may be a plausible, more optimistic possibility, but again, not likely to be implemented anytime soon. Our other choice is to do nothing. If that becomes our option, we fall far behind the rest of the world in our effort to achieve greater cultural understanding, thereby remaining myopic, and being perceived as such.


Student(s):
Lindsey Kuramoto

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines

Transforming Journalism One Blog at a Time
Since 1994, when Swarthmore College student Justin Hall wrote the world’s first online blog, blogging has continued to become more pervasive, more ubiquitous, and at the same time, more reviled in the public forum. The increasing radicalization of the responses to online blogging itself demonstrates the growing importance of blogging’s explosive popularity. After exploring a significant number of print and online sources, I have determined: 1) that positive responses to blogging focus primarily on the benefits of an interactive platform for freedom of speech, and that 2) the negative responses generally characterize blogging as unreliable and unprofessional. Interestingly, many of these negative responses tend to be generated by professional journalists, for whom blogging is threatening to transform and marginalize their traditional journalism practices. Examples of such transformations include journalism’s incorporation of blogging methods and material, the soliciting of audience participation, and the increased emphasis on subjective involvement and perspective. Ultimately, the accessibility and interactive quality of blogs are driving the transformation of traditional journalism to a modernized alternative that uses the features of blogging as its preferred platform.



Student(s):
Danae Laviolette

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Rewriting Homer: Tennyson’s and Joyce’s Lotus Eaters
The universal subject of escape from the mundane has expedited the persistent use of the classical Lotus Eaters story in Western cultures. After having been originally introduced in the Greek bardic/oral narrative poetic tradition, the Lotus Eaters was incorporated by Homer in his epic poem, The Odyssey. Since then, it has been adapted by other authors in a number of widely divergent eras and cultures. Its continued popularity is hardly surprising—since audiences from all walks of life can relate to its strongly stated themes involving ennui and escape. Using Homer as a touchstone and Lord Alfred Tennyson and James Joyce as examples, my goal in this project has been to demonstrate how Tennyson’s Victorian and Joyce’s Modernist renderings of The Odyssey’s “The Lotus Eaters” illustrate the ongoing relevance and appeal of the story. In addition, contrasting these two adaptations of the classic story has clarified some interesting specific differences between the Victorian and the Modernist zeitgeist.



Student(s):
Cameron Lewis

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Mental Illness in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
I have done my capstone project on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. To start off the presentation, I will give a reading of a creative piece I have written regarding the characters of the book. I wrote this piece with the mindset of a mentally ill person. My goal in writing this was to capture the effect that Kesey’s book would have on a real person that is having similar emotions, thoughts, and experiences that the characters in the book have. This piece is important to me because it expresses my belief that One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest can have a lasting impression on a person who is mentally ill. I will explain how I have used personal experience with mental illness to help capture an authentic voice that represents the mentally ill. Following my reading, I will discuss themes coming from Kesey’s book. These themes include masculinity, and mental illness. I will take these themes and show how they can be seen as a catalyst to the formation of camaraderie amongst the members of the ward, and how this camaraderie helps shape them over the course of the story.



Student(s):
Sarah Peterson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
A Many-Sided Truth: Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Virginia Woolf's The Waves
For my project, I analyze Virginia Woolf’s late novel, The Waves. This novel was her most experimental and what Woolf considered as the epitome of her style. The novel’s form was the main object of early criticism for this work. However, a new trend has appeared in contemporary Woolf scholarship: the interdisciplinary approach. In my presentation, I analyze this trend as it relates to The Waves, and explore some of the implications of this type of scholarship. I break down some of the scholarship of the last twenty years and the different approaches it takes towards The Waves. I also explore how scholarship itself influences the way that we read this work and literature in general. By using Woolf’s own theories about the mutability of words and the common reader, I will approach this issue of literary scholarship from Woolf’s perspective. I will also apply these theories directly to interdisciplinary scholarship and argue that this new trend is more in line with Woolf’s theories than older forms of criticism. Finally, I will argue that The Waves is particularly suited to this type of scholarship because of its experimental nature and is finally coming into its own in the field of Woolf scholarship.


Student(s):
Cooper Smith

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Steinbeck's Stereotypes
The body of work of John Steinbeck has been debated in terms of cultural relevancy ever since it first gained critical popularity, but perhaps the most hotly debated work in terms of fair racial representation was undoubtedly Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat. The novel, which revolves around the misadventures of several Mexican-American “paisano” residents of the hill country of California’s Monterey, was praised in the early years following its release in 1935 for its pseudo-comedic caricatures of the poverty-stricken life of the “paisanos.” However, as reviews grew out of simple appreciation for the text and into cultural criticism, many writers began to question whether or not Steinbeck’s treatment of the Mexican-Americans in Tortilla Flat was, perhaps, inherently racist.
In an attempt to find a definitive answer to many cultural literary critics’ arguments on Steinbeck’s work, I looked at a multitude of sources (including movie representations, literary reviews, and criticisms) and have an interactive presentation that determines the fairness of Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat in terms of accurate cultural representation.
Student(s):
Elizabeth Whetstone

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Self-Inrospection in Sidney's "Astrophil and Stella"
The sonnet has played an influential role in the poetic discipline since the sixteenth century both as a central literary art form and valuable skill for all writers who have mastered it. Through the first composed sonnet sequence, “Astrophil and Stella,” Sir Philip Sidney illustrates to each of his readers the power of a structured form mixed effortlessly with a lyric voice, painting the perfect image of unrequited love. For Sidney, ‘authentic experiences’ are necessary in order to produce quality work, otherwise there would be no passion or emotion that would grab the reader’s attention, which then relates to how self-introspection effectively serves to entertain and to teach. After analyzing Sidney’s sequence, I aim to recognize the development of my own academic voice by employing a critical self-analysis that will generate more experiential learning. Sidney the writer frames his passion and emotions though his fictional counterpart, Astrophil, and in turn, I seek to reflect on the differences between my lyric writing voice and my academic voice, since both help demonstrate my thought process and how I choose to cater to reader’s emotions, making for a more valuable understanding and message.
Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Swenson Center 101
Description: English majors deliver papers and presentations as part of their senior Capstone experience, a year-long process combining independent and mentored research and creative writing. Students’ work reflects a high level of academic achievement and has likely been presented, in part or in full, at regional and national undergraduate conferences such as the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society.
Student(s):
Paul Alex

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
"Don't Ever Tell Anybody Anything"
For my presentation in the Festival of Scholars, I will be giving a presentation on the history of the psychological criticism of J.D. Salinger's book The Catcher in the Rye, and on the future of its criticism in light of recent developments within the fields of psychoanalytic criticism and study. It will cover, in a general sense, the methods that Salinger's contemporary Freudian critics used to psychoanalyze the book and its characters, the as well as analyzing what it was about the book's form and content that allowed Freudian critics to view the book as a veritable goldmine for their own form of criticism. Additionally, I will also be providing examples, influenced by these critics, of how the character of Holden Caulfield could be psychoanalytically read. I will be describing the potential future of the book's criticism in light of its falling out of the contemporary sphere, doing so by presenting some of the basic concepts and current theories of the contemporary field of child-development psychology. I will also explore its applicability to the work by providing examples of how this sort of criticism might be used to analyze the character of Holden Caulfield, showing the book's potential for wide re-introduction into the mode of literary criticism.
Student(s):
Michael Goldberg

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
RAFT-ing: A Writing Technique that Works
Even as the heated debates over implementing Common Core standards into state curricula continue, states that are working on integrating the standards have been publishing some positive results. One of the most promising of these is what Nancy Vandervanter first named the Role-Audience-Format-Topic (RAFT) teaching model. This model includes a pedagogical exercise that teachers are using to fulfill the state standard requirement of “literacy development.” Comparing the English-Language Arts test scores of the pre-RAFT-ing Common Core students to those exposed to RAFT-ing in the more recent Common Core, I found that the latter student group is generating better test scores not only in English-Language Arts, but in other categories as well. This result, however, is perhaps of less lasting significance than RAFT-ing’s other benefits. These benefits include improving student understanding of our global-centric world, giving students consistent opportunities for and practice in creative thinking, and ensuring that students experience deeper and more meaningful engagement in the classroom. Even if the Common Core is ultimately replaced or removed altogether, it is safe to predict that the RAFT-ing method will remain a viable teaching technique.


Student(s):
Jared Levin

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying
Mississippi native and Nobel Prize for Literature recipient William Faulkner frequently grasped the attention of many with his distinctive writing style. Faulkner’s stream of consciousness technique fuels his 1930 novel As I Lay Dying, allowing the reader to fully enter into the mind and psyche of fifteen characters, creating a novel filled with uncertainty as the inner thoughts of the characters expose many different types of dialogue and vocabulary that blur the lines between characters. Similarly, Faulkner plays with convention of plot as he weaves in and out of time and place. We must take the clutter of images and recollections that each character gives us and assemble something of it ourselves. Ultimately, it is an open question as to whether the novel’s genre- and convention-bending features exhibit acts of devotion or a series of comedic scenes: Is the novel a satire of country life, or a serious and psychological journey of a family laying their mother to rest?


Student(s):
Rebecca O'Hearn

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Pro Linguae Latinae Docendae: In Defense of Teaching Latin
In 2009, the U.S. College Board decided to discontinue the advanced placement exam in Latin literature. Many agree with this decision, and cite various reasons why they do, reasons that almost always include the argument that there is no point in continuing to teach a “dead” language, especially one as “masculine” as Latin. Re-examining these and other causes for the marginalizing of Latin in academia, I discovered that although some objections to continuing the teaching of Latin many have validity, a surprising number of the traditional benefits inherent in the study of classical Latin could serve to strengthen some of the weaknesses in today’s academic curricula. These advantages are not limited to the learning of the language, but extend to the heart of the student learning process. They include, but are not limited to: improving logic and cognitive skills, practicing and improving self-discipline, internalizing the highly structured and organized paradigm of an inflected language, preparing for professional fields such as medicine and law, accessing vocabulary words in English and other languages through the study of Latin root words, and experiencing in-depth learning about Roman history and literature.

Student(s):
Kaitlyn Webster

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines

For the Love of Reading: Addressing “Readicide” in U.S. Schools
As evidenced by certain opposing views of veteran teachers Kelly Gallagher and Donalyn Miller, research indicates that there is no consistent answer to the problem of how best to address our nation’s reading problem. Researchers agree that most students are graduating from high schools without the necessary tools for achieving an acceptable reading level or even the desire to read. There is, also, some agreement about causes. They have not, however, reached a consensus on what to do about the issue. In examining various pedagogical approaches to teaching reading in U.S. high schools, I have learned that many promising pedagogies have been theorized and/or put into practice. These include methods devised by experienced teachers such as Lauren Gatti, who uses 19th century popular fiction to engage her students in an exploration of the canon in her 19th century American Literature classes. While preliminary research looks positive regarding such teaching methods, they have seldom been tested thoroughly enough to offer empirical across-the-board results. Selecting some of these best practices as teaching models would open up opportunities for a more standardized use of successful reading instruction techniques.




2014 English Capstone Presentations

Date: Monday, April 28, 2014
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Roth Nelson Room
Description: English majors deliver papers and presentations as part of their senior Capstone experience, a year-long process combining independent and mentored research and creative writing. Students’ work reflects a high level of academic achievement and has likely been presented, in part or in full, at regional and national undergraduate conferences such as the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society.
Student(s):
Carrie Baarns

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Arabian Nights Unframed: Have You Seen This Protagonist?
The story of Scheherazade, the protagonist of Arabian Nights’ frame story and narrator of the ensuing stories, has widely influenced English literature. However, little or no research examines versions of Arabian Nights, such as Kate Douglass Wiggins’, which remove Scheherazade entirely. I argue that although both Husain Haddawy’s 2010 edition and Kate Douglas Wiggin’s 2012 edition share a title, Wiggins’ exclusion of Scheherazade reveals the editor’s wish to regain control over the narrative, resulting in fundamentally different volumes. Using these texts as representatives, along with Edward Said’s Orientalism, I survey this frame story’s role in bringing order to non-concurrently written stories, and the extreme pruning of the stories which occurs as a result of its removal. This project details Arabian Nights’ removal of Scheherazade as an important continuation of the text’s ongoing revision at the expense of its ethnographic and gender-conscious elements.



Student(s):
Torhi Dahl

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Environmental Poetry as Education: Writing for Greater Awareness
In the U.S., attention to and concern for the environment can enter the public consciousness by way of its educational systems. As a powerful form of expression, poetry is especially suitable for this purpose and can also be used to unite English and science lessons. Early on, American educators used British nature poetry in their classrooms. Later, the work of American poets became available, some of whom concentrated on environmental themes and subjects. Using Henry David Thoreau, Robert Frost, and Wendell Berry as what I refer to as examples of “Environmental Poets,” I have extracted techniques from their work to serve as guidelines for my own poetry collection. This collection will serve as an interdisciplinary resource to be used in U.S. elementary classrooms to increase awareness about the aims of the environmental movement.


Student(s):
Jesse Hecht

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Enhancing the Creative Process: A Writing / Drawing Synthesis
Scholars who have studied Chinese Calligraphy, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, and cave paintings have often explored the curious and interesting relationships between art and the written word. Clearly, as language changed and developed, words and images gradually became less integrated, until, in many current cultures, they must have been increasingly perceived as two entirely separate functions. We do, however, have examples of modern writers who have integrated these two means of expression as a way to enhance the creative process. To demonstrate, I have specifically examined the relationship between writing and drawing in Aldous Huxley’s 1912 Marburg sketchbook. This research has convinced me of the worth of the Neuroconstructivist Theory that advocates a return to a writing / drawing synthesis and fusion as a method of stimulating creative work.


Student(s):
Lyndsey Kelleher

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Cultural and Programming Interrelationships in Children's Television
The producers of American children’s television programs have a complex interrelationship with their viewers. The programs reflect, adapt to, and even significantly change the current culture. Because the producers of these shows need to attract and sustain a targeted audience, their programming has to reflect and often adapt to the current cultural preferences of that audience. But sometimes, a program’s creators also change the culture of their audiences, especially when sub cultures of fans devoted to individual programs begin to develop. I demonstrate how programs such as Phineas and Ferb reflect on the current culture, how other shows, like Spongebob Squarepants, have had to adapt in order to survive, and how My Little Pony and Adventure Time are examples of programs that can change the current culture because of their growing fan base.


Student(s):
Kiersten Lopez

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines

Translating the Games: Reader-turned-viewer Issues in Adaptation
Some of the most successful box office films today are adaptations of young adult novels, two of which, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, are a part of Suzanne Collin’s series The Hunger Games. While the films were successful, the fans of the original novels voiced their various complaints. This paper divides Hunger Games reader-turned-viewer complaints into two categories: complaints of infidelity and complaints regarding film structure. I examine these complaints through the lenses of film adaptation and literary cognitive theory to prove that they are not grounded in the text, but that they stem from excessive empathy and a misunderstanding of cinematic grammar. This excessive empathy in readers creates unreasonable expectations that are impossible to translate to film, making it impossible for any adaptation to satisfy both a film centered audience and a literary centered audience.



Student(s):
Allison Martin

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Readers, Biography, and The Picture of Dorian Gray: Our Response to Reading
Using reader-response theory and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I explore the impact of biography on reading literary works. I argue that biography eclipses the novel because readers are consistently presented with biographical information prior to reading the novel. This means that before reading the work, readers learn that Wilde was tried and convicted of sodomy, and that passages from this novel were used against him: reading biographically means, in Wilde’s case, that readers encounter the novel first as evidence, and second as art. A brief survey of readers from the nineteenth century to today suggests how much the influence of Wilde’s trial has impacted our reading practices. This paper attempts to recover Wilde’s “ideal reader,” reconstructed from his critical and autobiographical writings. I argue that only by doing so can we recover the novel as art in an age dominated by the evidence of biography.



Student(s):
Christopher Meyers

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
To Be or Not to Be
In this project, I use historical fiction to interrogate an important but little-regarded feature of the literary history of Shakespeare’s Hamlet—the play’s originality. Even though Hamlet is credited to Shakespeare, there are written documents giving credit to another renowned writer of the time, Thomas Kyd. In the preface of Robert Greene’s novel, Menaphon (1589), Thomas Nashe attributes the original Hamlet to Thomas Kyd. Greene also accuses Shakespeare of plagiarism in his book, Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit (1592). These statements by Shakespeare’s contemporaries raise some doubt about the authorship of Hamlet. My fiction experiments with the unknown records of the last part of Kyd’s life and the mysteries behind the originality of the play. By giving life to the “character” of Kyd I am provoking readers to empathize with him as the discredited author of the first Hamlet, and of his own work.



Student(s):
Elizabeth Nuno

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
The American Camelot
The virtues, values, and symbolism integral to Arthurian legend have helped to keep the legend alive in various cultures and historical periods. U.S. culture has also appropriated the legend and made it relevant in and to a democratic American society. I demonstrate how this has sometimes been done to help effect political stability (as was the case in the Kennedy administration) and, as well, how American writers and filmmakers have used the legend as a kind of blueprint for their work. Both our literature and film repertoire include many examples of how the legend has been used to define and reinforce American cultural values. I will touch only briefly on certain relevant films, and have limited my discussion chiefly to the works of American writers. These include Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, and John Steinbeck.


Student(s):
Andrew Olson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Eliot's Waste Land and Writing Culture
In writing The Waste Land, T. S. Eliot was influenced by available scholarship about non-Western cultures. This essay explores the fantastical nature of scholarship such as The Golden Bough by J. G. Frazer and From Ritual to Romance by Jesse Weston, the extent and creative uses to which Eliot put that scholarship, and the extent to which Eliot was “writing culture” in the manner outlined by anthropologist James Clifford. Though modern scholarship has discredited much of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century theory developed by Frazer and Weston, the poem is perhaps best understood in light of that scholarship. Therefore, I offer a new interpretation of The Waste Land and show that Eliot was writing culture, but not anything exotic— through his poem, Eliot was molding his own culture. Eliot used an interplay of non-Western voices and ideas to define postwar Europe in 1921 as hopeless and full of social isolation.

 

2013 English Capstone Presentations

Date: Monday, April 29, 2013
Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Roth Nelson Room
Description: English majors deliver papers and presentations as part of their senior Capstone experience, a year-long process combining independent and mentored research and creative writing. Students’ work reflects a high level of academic achievement and has likely been presented, in part or in full, at regional and national undergraduate conferences such as the Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR), the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), and Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society.
Student Abstracts at this Session
Student(s):
Elise Clapp

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Innovative Devices in "After a While," an Original Short Story
Skillful authors use a variety of unusual devices to enhance the impact of their story telling. One such device is the use of a seemingly random framing structure; another is an unreliable first person narrator; and a third is the use of an unconventional method of developing plot sequence. In my original story “After a While,” I use all of these devices, but, as I will demonstrate in my presentation, I use them in highly innovative ways. A bucket list serves as my basic frame; the first person narrator, albeit unreliable, captures the audience’s sympathy; and the plot is complexly sequenced through character development. Although creative writing theorists agree that these devices should be subtle--so as not to overpower or distract from the primary story line, I use them boldly and argue that doing so reinforces my intended purpose of adding complexity and intrigue to the piece.



Student(s):
Alexander Daley

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
A Search for Power: The Role of Female Ambition in Emma and To the Lighthouse
Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf depict their characters, Emma Woodhouse and Mrs. Ramsay, as rebels against the social expectations for women of their time in order to show the power of female ambition. In Emma and To the Lighthouse, each character has a strategy for resisting against the male dominated social structure, but they display the capability to be both a part of mainstream society and a part of a rising counterculture that signifies a form of heroism which literary theorist Peter Brooks defines as “ambitious.” However, Brooks’ theory is limited only to identifying male ambitious heroes. To illustrate their function as “ambitious heroes,” I highlight two capacities of these characters: Emma Woodhouse’s perceived ability to romantically maneuver Harriet to marry Frank Churchill; and Mrs. Ramsay’s ability to arrange a dinner party, at which she is able to perceive, and maneuver within, her world from several different points of view.


Student(s):
Debben Hoffer

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Narration Through Poetry: Why Narrative and Perspective Matter
Narration is an important aspect of a story. Through narration, we get a story’s specific perception. What I have done is taken forms of poetry to convey different types of narration. Through poetry, I attempt to tell the same story five different times with five different poetic forms to get the same idea from it. The story I am trying to unfold within my poetry is about a car accident. Five different people saw five different things that happened and no one can re-create the whole story perfectly, but with a glimpse of parts of what they can describe, we can get enough information gathered to see the main concept. I have handcrafted five separate poems in order to tell this story. I use ballads, free verse, prose poetry, and anaphoric poetry in my project to explore this idea. I use examples from Poets Claudia Keelan and Peter Covino.


Student(s):
Caitlin Jensen

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
The Silenced Mind: The Feminine Voice and Its Effects on Cognitive Narration
Although cognitive approaches to literature have become important tools in understanding narrative, they are far from being complete. By locating mind in a narrative, cognitive approaches offer a stronger analysis of the text, yet they disregard the mind in relation to gender. Given the classical feminist argument, like the one provided in Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s study, "The Madwoman in the Attic," literature has been man's domain throughout history. One begins to wonder where the mind's gender comes into play today. This essay examines the differences between the feminine and masculine mind by analyzing Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem, "A Man's Requirements." With the help of Susan Lanser's theory of the female double-voice and Manfred Jahn's theory of focalization through shifting windows of perception, I seek to put the gender back into mind to show how the feminine voice can help reorient a narrative while critiquing patriarchal society.


Student(s):
Wenqing Luo

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
New Perspectives on Teaching and Tutoring Chinese International Students
The differences in Chinese and English writing conventions present a challenge for those who want to teach English to Chinese international students. By identifying, describing, comparing and contrasting Chinese with English writing conventions, I intend to create a set of pedagogical tools that will make us more effective in teaching and tutoring Chinese international students.



Student(s):
Michael McCaughey

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Creationism and Scientism: Parallels and Divergences
In a world that all but demands that science be the foundation upon which we base our knowledge, many Christian creationists have increasingly come to use the rhetoric of science to prove their position. Examining this rhetoric alongside the rhetoric of scientism provides us with insight into what these two ideologies have in common as well as how they diverge. Particularly, I show how creationists have been responding to science with their own brand of science, all framed within a diegetic world that requires the imagination to adopt certain claims as facts in order to support a worldview suitable to their beliefs. I also examine how both sides work with fictional narrative to present a “non-fictional” history of the world. My purpose is not only to understand the similarities and differences of the arguments, but to understand, as well, some of the specific causes that might underlie the radical reaction people have to the opposition’s view.



Student(s):
Alexis Miller

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
C.S. Lewis and a Rejection of Cynicism
Although Benjamin Schreier concedes that cynicism is “capable of reinvigorating . . . democratic institutions,” he also sees cynicism as a “failure of competence,” and as a tactic that avoids rather than solves problems. I will examine cynicism in its role as a characteristic of postmodernism and will demonstrate how it attacks rather than builds on the foundations of past thought, thus free-floating rather than grounding new ideas and structures. While studying C.S. Lewis at Oxford, I was intrigued by the sharp contrast between his optimistic writings and the cynicism that seemed so pervasive in postmodern literature. Using Lewis as a model of a writer who ultimately rejected the allure of cynicism and emphasized the importance of tradition in the context of what he called “natural law,” I argue that society, instead of continuing to be dominated by postmodern cynicism, would be better served by a literary culture that credits writers like Lewis who have a more positive outlook on life.



Student(s):
Judith Newlin

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
The Educational Value of Reading: A Cognitive Approach
Why do readers continue to read popular novels that are critically panned? Using recent cognitive theory, I found that the reader of both page-turners and critical darlings uses a process of cognitive self-education to better comprehend new experiences vicariously lived through the narrative. To support this claim I relied on the work of Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, cognitive theorists who hold that a reader comes to a text with pre-constructed frames of reference for various situations, which are created from prior life experiences and perceptions, and used to understand and interpret new scenarios. But, if all novels are equal at the cognitive level, how should we distinguish high art from low art? I think it is time to produce a more inclusive definition of literature that gives credit to the cognitive actions of the reader upon the meaning of text.


Student(s):
Ashley Orozco

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Chicana Poetry: One New Voice and Where It Stands
Throughout the various waves of feminism, poetry has been a way of capturing voices of generations of women to which my own collection of poems will contribute. My project is a collection of 5 personal poems that relate to the topic of women and family tradition, specifically in the realm of Mexican American women, or Chicana. Chicana poetry shares common themes of sexuality and gender identification that are passed down through tradition to each new generation of women writers. My poems experiment with three different narrative perspectives, or “focalizers” in narratologist William Neelles’s terms, to illustrate how focalization in poetry can be used to exemplify the Chicana poet’s experience of sexuality, identity, and tradition. Each poem “focalizes” women of different ages dealing with identity issues relevant to their age. My objective is to create various story windows, while at the same time holding together a common thread of generational wisdom.


Student(s):
Patrick Bennett

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Finding Identity in a Postmodern World: Paths of Discovery in Haruki Murakami’s Detective Novels
In his detective novels, Japanese writer Haruki Murakami demonstrates how his postmodern characters develop their specifically individual identities by way of various methods, experiences, and choices. Their common initial conditions of loneliness and isolation arguably reflect the condition of some of Murakami’s postmodern readers. I want to theorize that these readers can use the detective author’s “character-seeking-and-finding-identity” model to gain a rational set of skills with which to discover their own identities.



Student(s):
Brenda Gallardo

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
National Educational Policy-making: What’s needed? What’s new?
The U.S. Department of Education has implemented various policies to address the issues and problems in our country’s educational systems. In this paper, I specify how two national education policies have been less than successful in equipping our students with the necessary skills for meeting “the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship,” a goal that Frederick Hess, a Harvard University Professor, maintains we need to achieve. Both the policy-driven Excellence Movement during the 1980s and the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 failed to reach their expected results, let alone Hess’s lofty goal. Recently, the Department of Education is once again on the verge of implementing a new national education policy--the Common Core. An examination of this new policy reveals that the Common Core has a good chance of providing what is needed to fulfill the expectations we have for national education.



Student(s):
Robert Galletly

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
The Mind’s Eye: Focalization in Post-Modern Films
In film, as in fiction, an audience is drawn in to the characters before them. This paper explores a key mechanism by which the audience is connected to characters in contemporary film, namely through the narrative action of focalization. Focalization is the process by which we see from a character's perspective. There has been a trend in contemporary filmmaking that makes the technical process of focalization a feature of the plot. In the 1999 film "Being John Malkovich," characters place themselves into someone else’s body and interact with others to find out more about themselves. As the characters enter someone else, the audience views this "outer" character, yet the "inner" character is acting and thinking for them. I will explore how this process works in "postmodern" films and what this move to make formal narrative elements like focalization the substance or content of the narrative has to say about film.


Student(s):
Jenna Nakamura

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Time Progression and Reader Investment in Holocaust Autobiographies
Holocaust personal narratives contain elements that differ from fictional stories and informational sources that allow them to expose the character's emotions and thoughts that would not be provided in other genres. In Anne Frank’s diary, "Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl," and Miriam Katin’s graphic memoir, "We Are On Our Own," the personal choices in their lives illustrate how each of their decisions affected their lives. My intent was to compare certain excerpts in these two different types of personal memoirs to demonstrate how their structures differ but they both still reveal more than factual sources. My interest in this project began with the connection to the characters in historical personal narrative as well as the opportunity to situate myself in the character's situation. I found that memoirs and diaries were similar in providing emotional information but they differed in their presentation of the character's stories.


Student(s):
Shannon Streeter

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Banning Harry: A Long and Losing Battle
The rationales for banning books have often been based on religious ideology, and the outcry against the Harry Potter series is no exception. Fundamentalist religious groups have declared that the Harry Potter novels promote a wicked way of life. They fear that J.K. Rowling's "malicious message" will infiltrate the minds of children and have damaging long term effects on society in general. They argue that Rowling's world of magic is thoroughly Satanic because magic is always Satanic and therefore evil and dangerous. This opposition is ironic in its failure to acknowledge Rowling's own emphases on struggles between good and evil. I demonstrate how the author's magical world is neither distinctly Wiccan nor Satanic and how her Christ figures and other Biblical contexts challenge the rationales of those who would ban these highly popular and successful books.


Student(s):
Ashley Szanter

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Homosocial “Theory” and a New Reading of The Picture of Dorian Gray
Homosociality (social relationships between persons of the same sex and especially between men) originated as a Sociology term referencing intra-gender relations. In 1985, literary theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick introduced the term homosocial as an interesting supplement to Queer theory, exploring it as a way to understand masculine gender dynamics in literature. Although Sedgwick did not forge a full-blown homosocial literary theory, she did build its preliminary foundations. I aim to broaden Sedgwick’s preliminary construction and create a theoretical prototype that can be applied across literary genres. Grounding this prototype in historical and etymological contexts will enable the theory to be detailed in its focus on homosociality while retaining breadth in relation to socio-cultural and historical factors. Applying this template to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray will reopen the conversation on homosocial versus homosexual readings of Wilde’s novel.



Student(s):
Elmira Tadayon

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Sherwood Anderson’s “Grotesques:” Characters as Human Truths, Not Human Minds
This essay examines Sherwood Anderson’s implied function of character as a representation of human truth rather than human mind, and demonstrates how this reading of character changes the way narrative can be understood and defined. Anderson’s "Winesburg, Ohio" challenges the assumption that characters are intrinsically human elements by introducing the concept of the “grotesque,” or the perversion of truth by humanization. For Anderson, a character is a representation of an abstract “truth,” which integrates with other truths in the context of a narrative in order to derive meaning and morality. This theory of character is contrasted with cognitive theory, which argues that by assigning a human “mind” to characters the reader simulates narrative situations and experiences emotions by proxy. The proposed theory of character function suggests that the reader can identify and associate with various human “truths,” signifying the narrative’s relativity to the social context in which it is read.


Student(s):
Grayson Yoder

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
How Readers Read: Are the Processes as Elusive as Ever?
Reader-response theory focuses on the interrelationships of reader and text. Stanley Fish sees these relationships as reflecting “. . . the shifting and contingent conditions of a community’s practice.” Cognitive literary theorists seek to marginalize Fish’s emphasis on reading behaviors as dependent on socialization factors and re-focus the reader-response inquiry within a physiological context. Their approach grounds the reader-text relationship by suggesting that the brain is not only a discernible system, but that the system itself is definable and constant enough to sustain cognitive literary theory as a general rule. This attempt to shift the emphasis from a socialization to a physiological context is now itself being challenged by new brain science. The work of Mary Ann Wolf and others in this field may yet destabilize the physiological base that has provided the cognitive theorists with the consistency needed to support their application of common and defined reader-response processes.



2010 English Capstone Presentations

Emily Piper

"Never Mind" (original short story)

Allison Wachtel

"Size and Simulacra: Understanding Flesh and Agency in Don DeLillo's White Noise"

Shirley Wang

"Innocent Infatuations with Coveted Obsessions" (collection of original poems)

Christa Youngern

"Tagged" (original short story)

Karen Emmert

"Potable Prophets: A Poetic Romp Through Faith" (collection of original poems)

Scott Bergemann

"Everywhere is War" (collection of original poems)

Sara Burgess

"Vampire Obsession and Mormon Values in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series"

Kaci Cooper

"The Anxious Worlds of Hardy and Faulkner"

Tori Destocki

"Caught" (original one-act play)

2009 English Capstone Presentations

Student(s):
Katherine Bierach

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. James Bland
Room 621

In "Room 621," Natalie, a college student who works in a bakery, decides to accept a wealthy customer's proposition for a paid sexual affair. The relationship allows them not only to escape from their drab daily lives, but also an opportunity for them to rethink honesty, trust, and self-valuation. Blurring the lines of relationship labels, Natalie and Rob view their encounters in different lights, but a growing sense of intimacy and empowerment keep driving them back toward each other. The purpose of the story is to examine how happiness and love, without necessitating each other, affect others in our lives, and to challenge the fairy tale notion of true love and happy endings. I re-wrote "Room 621" multiple times, experimenting with verb tenses and plot twists, feeling my way forward to an organic close.


Student(s):
Shannon Anderson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Batman: A Return to the Byronic Hero
The reappearance of the Batman character over 75 years speaks volumes about its reflection of American social transformations through the Great Depression, the Cold War, and current problems of globalization and terrorism. However, the conspicuous Byronic characeristics between economic standing and vigilantism have never been studied in depth. This presentation reexamines the emergence of the Byronic hero and identidifies the social transformations Batman echoes. The research focuses on the contradictions necessitated between mortailty and the relationship of wealth and justice in a modern, global context. The method of approach was the analysis of two Batman graphic novels and a breakdown of the visual and ethical progression of the Batman character since its creation in 1939. Unlike traditional Byronism, the character's philosophy of rebellion. defiance, and skepticism are ultimately beneficial to society. He takes the role of a social critic, yet this socially beneficial twist to the Byronic hero does not free him from guilt, bitterness, or exile. This research will add nuance to our understanding of Byronism and the complexities that arise when added to the already complex mixture of twentieth century heroes, morals, and political policies.


Student(s):
Nicholas Guarino

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. James Bland
Space Dust
Space Dust is the title of a novel that I am writing. What I will be presenting is the opening section from that novel. The story was deeply inspired by the American tradition literary Sinicism, calling writers such as Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut. It is about a kid from Schenectady, named Laurence Stevenson, who writes a screenplay about a terrorist who blows up the whole world. The story follows the odyssey Laurence goes on to make his script and reality.


Student(s):
Krista Jones

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Marja Mogk
Unsent Letters
"Unsent Letters" is a creative nonfiction memoir comprising a series of letters written to people or objects in my environment. The purpose of these letters is not necessarily to communicate with those addressed, but to reveal the internal dialogues with others that often take place within my own mind. The letters range in focus from everyday serendipities to more serious reflections, and from the comic to the earnest. They reveal a neurotic self-consciousness that shapes what is perceived and inflects its articulation. This presentation will include a selection of letters representative of the overall tone of the project.

Student(s):
Liane Lefler

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Marja Mogk
A Tale that Turned Tail
This is a contemporary young adult fantasy fiction short story about learning that surfaces do not always relfect what lies underneath. The story's protagonist, Princess Javelin, is independent and adventerous, but she nevertheless falls madly in love with exactly the right man: the dashing Prince Bertrum. When Bertrum sets out on a vainglorious quest to seek the legendary Phantasm, Javelin steps into action to save her beloved from certain death. Along the journey, however, Javelin gets a hand from an unwanted helper; a lowly courtier whose duty to protect Javeline hides his own love for her. Javelin's mission challenges her to discover her own strengths as she faces life-threatening trials and, ultimately, challenges her to discover what love really looks like. This story was inspired by genre stories that move beyond restrictive gender typing by representing female characters as proactive agents: Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride and Disney's Mulan.


Student(s):
Marijel Melo

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Marja Mogk
Change the Subject
Menstruation during choir practice, bathroom bullying, losing a mom at sixteen: "Change the Subject" is a creative non-fiction piece that pays homage to memories often left unspoken and filed away under the brain's "do not go there" slot. The piece is comprised of a handful of "visual snapshots"--or vignettes--that act as meticulous story tellers, stringing and resurrecting past memories into the form of a written story.



Student(s):
Cyndy Murphy

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Marja Mogk
Swimming in the Deep End
This project is a creative work consisting of nineteen original poems sharing the common theme of loss. The goal of this poetry compilation was to creatively investigate and emotionally validate the different circumstances surrounding loss. The nineteen poems deal separately with the death of loved ones, the loss of self, failed romantic relationships, the question of female gender roles, the destruction of the environment, financial struggles, and the loss of freedom through incarceration. "Swimming in the Deep End" has some feminist qualities in the poetry that are very loosely based on the works of Adrienne Rich. Dylan Thomas and Robert Frost were also inspirational to this project.


Student(s):
Jennifer Swanson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr.Sigmar Shcwarz
Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood and the Gospel of John 9- The Blind Man's Journey to Sight
John 9, the story of the blind man who is made capable of sight, sheds light on Flannery O'Connor's discussion of blindness in her work, "Wise Blood." The duality of physical and spiritual blindness is a theme present in both works, and the study of this theme reveals a similar message, or warning, to the general public. The miracle of John 9 is a man who is physically cured of his blindness and gains spiritual sight as well while the pharisees remain spiritually blind; the miracle in "Wise Blood" is that Hazel Motes, though he physically blinds himself, finds himself finally capable of spiritual sight. In both works, material sight acts as a hindrance in the quest for spiritual sight.


Student(s):
Lindsay Taylor

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
A Poetry of American Public Spaces: Late 17th through late 20th Centuries
My goal in this series of poems has been to capture some of the atmospheres and attitudes of certain key time periods in U.S. history, conveying them through poetic descriptions of the country's social spaces. Each poem attempts to represent its historical moment, in part by illustrating the social rituals of a public gathering place. The poems present various community sites, each reflecting familiar milestones in a timeline of American history. The poems' settings animate and resonate with the country's culture at various historical moments, and each poem indicates how a site has adapted and been renewed as the country's communities have changed over time and been affected by specific events. I chose to reference historical periods of significance, then chose some of the most popular public spaces, researched the era and atmosphere, and synthesized this information in my poems.



Student(s):
Brittany Reaves
Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Marja Mogk
City Lights
"City Lights" is a short book that is about the journey if a young woman's life. She learns the difference of her past sheltered life in comparison to the large, exhilarating lifestyle that she eventually adapts to including the love of a stranger. The coincidental occaisons as to where they meet are fortunate enough for Charlotte to have caught his eye, but she is too focused on adapting to this new life to notice. This is a fictional love story that happens when it is least expected. It always appeared to be so easy to write a fictional book but, in turn, I was proved wrong. The main process or method of writing this short story was basically just writing down all of my ideas when they came to me.


2009 First Year Research Presentations

Student(s):
Nicholas Bague

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Tourism and Authenticity
In my paper, I synthesize two ethnigraphic accounts in order to find a deeper, implicit message. It seemed that the authenticity of the Chinese and Danish cultures of Chinatown and Solvang, respectively, had been tailored to appease the American consumerism that threatened their cultures. According to Clifford Geertz and Edward Bruner, culture texts only illustrate what authors feel is most important in light of inevitable ethnocentricity, giving the texts more touristic attributes than ethnographic. According to Dydia DeLyser. tourists try to escape from something rather than quest for something, similar to the escape from American society that the authors seemingly expected. In her essay, she suggests that rather that tourist spots being authentic themselves, they give tourists merely the experience of authenticity. From here, I conclude that rather than being disappointed specifically in Chinatown and Solvang, the authors are implicitly voicing disappointment at the effects of Americanization of foreign cultures.



Student(s):
Bradley Boelman

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Authenticity: The Cultural Facade
This paper uncovers a tension in the concept of cultural authenticity by comparing representations of two seemingly dissimilar cultures. My research is derived from two "culture texts," which are paper written from first-hand observation of a foreign area and the area's culture. In my paper, using the texts, I argue that both places are not in fact separate from American culture, but rather American cuture with non-American elements, illustrating a tension between cultural authenticity and inauthenticity. They show that how the presence of foreign elements pushes these two "foreign" places outside of dominant American culture altogether, thereby preserving "authenticity" as something distinctively "American." To argue this, this paper compares the texts to the writing by Bronislaw Maliowski and Richard Handler on the subjects of culture and authenticity.


Student(s):
Christa Carlson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Marja Mogk
"New Eve"
"New Eve" is a short story that retells the traditional nativity tale through the Virgin Mary's point of view. Unlike the Mary we meet through the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, this version pictures Mary as a contemporary high school student in Ventura County and follows the events of her life through her own first-person account. As a "new" or second Eve, Mary is not the saintly innocent woman that she has been historically understood to be, but a woman with sexual desires, complex social relationships, and conflicting thoughts on the strange events that befall her. The story falls within a larger American tradition of retelling the Gospel narratives, however unconventionally, in an effort to understand and appreciate them (e.g.Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, or Margaret George's novel Mary, Called Magdalene).

Student(s):
Megan Casanova

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Marja Mogk
The Green Table
The Green Table is a one-act play about a hardworking cafe owner, Chris Dreyer, and his estranged teenaged granddaughter, Marle. After years apart, Marle has come to live with Chris. The two struggle to overcome their mututal awkwardness and reconcile the past as they both mourn the loss of Chris's daughter, Marle's mother. Separately, they find meaning in their memories, in music, and dance. Ultimately, they find comfort in knowing that they struggle together. The play explores the ways in which we try to generate certainty--through religion, for example--in face of life's uncertainties, and the stress that this generates in relationships. It also explores the intersections of multiple losses; the loss of a loved one, the loss of the past, and the loss of economic security as Chris's cafe is increasingly in danger of failing.


Student(s):
Adam Erickson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bruce Stevenson
Thoreau's Vision of America
Scholars have long studied Henry David Thoreau's Walden; or, Life in the Woods as a peculiarly and profoundly American social critique, as a meditation on the nature of one man's self-sufficient and independent existence,or as a guidebook for economical living or self-improvement. This paper argues that Thoreau's Walden embraced the rhetoric of individualism of his era, combining it with an exploration of the power of consciously coexsiting with the natural landscape, to provide not only a method of living deliberately but also a model for coexisting with other peoples as well.



Student(s):
Suzuye Nomura

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Penny Cefola
Recognizing the Problem
I did not have room in my hectic high school social life for depression, so instead it consumed me from within and made my life a mental living pandemonium. No one else could see or understand the battle raging within my five foot frame, but I could feel it like a heavy cloak weighing me down. This is the story of my story bout with depression and how I coped. The purpose of my study was to prove that depression is nothing like a cold, it cannot be dealt with in a week, and that if depression is dealt with actively healing can begin. Introspection, interviews and research on various authors of related literature comprised my project and made it whole. Excruciating life experiences do not have age limits or time restraints. They do not discriminate or hold grudges, but they do give us exceptional opportunites to better ourselves and those around us.


Student(s):
Kristina Ritcher

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Jim Bond
How to be a Hero: Harry Potter Reexamined
Within the limited field of Harry Potter academics, scholars have generally understood heroism to be confined to one person--Harry Potter-- who fits a specific list of classical attributes. In light of the final installment of the series, however, this understanding of heroism in an oversimplification as we see multiple heroes who do not fit the mold. In this presentation, I will explore a broader definition of heroism that allows for multiple heroes. This heroism rises more from love and community than prophecy or inheritance. I base my examination on a close study of Deathly Hallows, consideration of all the previous books in the Harry Potter series, as well as research by other scholars in the field.


Student(s):
Brigette Stevenson

Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Joan Wines
Beware the Red Book: A Work of Children's Literature
Beware the Red Book is a work of children's literature meant to have its audience question the world around them. Evelyn Brown, the story's reluctant heroine, discovers a mysterious notebook, and strange things start to come to light. However, not all of them are as wonderful as they seem. Evelyn is the only one who can save herself, but can the reader be saved easily? The story satirizes the elements of fantasy in literature. Told from the point of view of a sarcastic and omniscient narrator, Beware the Red Book attempts to make its reader as much a character in the story as the characters in the story itself. With these unusual methods, hopefully children will learn that reading a book might very well be the start to the adventure they have been waiting for.



Student(s):
Calvin Wiley, Nicholas Bague, Bradley Boelman
Faculty Mentor:
Dr. Bryan Rasmussen
Deeper Knowledge
Every ethnographer studies his culture through a sort of film, a lens that puts certain aspects in better focus and affects any analysis he writes. In writing this paper, I attempted to analyze that lens and derive what qualities create to anoteworthy ethnography. I argue that "atypical attributes," deep and personal knowledge of the group at hand, separate the truly excellent works. I derive my evidence from two mini-ethnographies, or "culture texts," written by Molly King and Garret Henry, each of whom visited Chinatown and returned with opposing analyses. I also use evidence from scholars such as Clifford Geertz and Johannes Fabian to advance my argument. I end my paper by suggesting that it is the existence of these atypical attributes in a group of people that create culture to start with.


 

2008 English Capstone Presentations

Lauren Coss "Little Downfalls"
David Watterson “The Graduate: Reflections on Film & Life”
Jessica Porter "Aging and Duality: A Non-Modernist Interpretation of “Prufrock”
Amy Lever "Hollow Imagery and Imperialism in Heart of Darkness"
Jaclyne Rodriguez "The Effects of War on Iraqi Children"
Kristina M. Skiba "V, Vengeance, Villains, and Victims: A Butterfly Effect"
Mario Piumetti Jr. "The Vatraviča"
Amanda Setto "The Four Humours Throughout Medieval & Renaissance English Literature"
Timothy Harker "Rising, Falling and Redemption in Fallen Angels"
Nicole Walker "Check Your Blood"
Blake Hunsicker "Daniel and Cyrus before the Idol Bel"
Elizabeth Fox "Peter's Absent Mother"
Crystal Lorraine Murguia "The Witches’ Manipulation of Macbeth through Foresight"
Sylvia Naranjo "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Christian Imagery Expressed through Harry and His Supporting Characters"

2007 English Capstone Presentations

Jake Goodrich              “Faith and Lack Thereof: Spiritual Attitudes in the Wake of the Holocaust”
Matt Johnson                “The Journey Within: Exploring the Natural World in Heart of Darkness
Danielle Martin             “The Outlaw Kid”
Luci Masredjian            “Calvinism Misguided in Faulkner’s Light in August
Emily Moffett                “Parallelism in the Modern Prometheus”
Erin Warrell                  “The Evolution of the Little Red Riding Hood Character as Reflective of Changing Socio- Cultural Perspectives"
Sam Farinacci               EVAN
Amelia Norton              “John Donne as Crypto-Catholic: Religious Imagery in Holy Sonnets XIII – XIX”
Patrick Jennett              “Deuces Wild and Dime Novel
Daniel Thomas              “Reciprocity and Jungian Psychology in Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy
Briana Williams             “A Study of Inner and Outer Beauty in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast