Festival of Scholars

An annual celebration of research, scholarship, and creativity

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.

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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.




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