Senior Sem 2018!! A little something to whet your nerdy appetite…

Our Senior Seminar students will be presenting their work at a mini-conference in Swartz on Thursday evening (5/10) at 6p. Please join us! All are welcome!

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Curious about what our students have been so busy researching?? Read on to see their abstracts!!

Dominic Behler, “Writing Magic in Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a book about books. Susanna Clarke details a fictional practice of magic using footnotes that reference a fabricated body of scholarship, which is studied by “magicians.” The texts and authors to which she alludes allow the reader to further consider the book in their hands, emphasizing the meta-textual nature of the novel. The system of magic represents humanist agency, political power, and the cultural heritage of England. Clarke sets the novel in England’s Regency era, which further presents the text as an act of revision, or writing history over. The cultural heritage of magic then becomes a part of the text’s conversation with the reader. Faeries and spells are not the true magic of Clarke’s England. Instead, the author implies that the act of writing and the novel’s very existence possess the spark of magic.

Ryan Calamia, “Dealing with Trauma through Letter Writing in Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower

My paper argues that writing can help one to cope with trauma. People who experience trauma sometimes have a hard time dealing with it. They often do not even know what the trauma is. To deal with trauma, people can consult a therapist or seek relief in medication. The Perks of Being a Wallflower represents writing as a form of trauma therapy. Charlie, the novel’s protagonist, comes to terms with his trauma through writing letters to a “friend.” A close analysis of the narrative reveals that writing is an effective way for people to cope with trauma.

Colleen Campbell, “Kenji Mizoguchi’s The Life of Oharu: Understanding the Struggles of Japanese Women in the Seventeenth Century”

I examine Kenji Mizoguchi’s The Life of Oharu to show how the film represents the social, gender, and religious issues that affected women in the male-dominated world of seventeenth-century Japan. The Life of Oharu recalls the experiences of Japanese women during this time to remind viewers that the long struggle for women’s rights is not over.

Devon Davis, “Fear, Morality, and Reluctant Readers: What Children Can Learn from Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Series”

Everyone has a campfire story to tell. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it rhymes, but far more often it is meant to scare those listening. Alvin Schwartz was a primary purveyor of these scary campfire stories for many years, and his series dedicated to adapting folklore still enchants children today. Through close analysis of three scary stories, this paper explores how Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series has had a positive impact on children, despite parental backlash.

Jillian Gratz, “The Fragility of Relationships in a Materialistic World: Emily Bronte’s Commentary on Society in Wuthering Heights

It is a well-known truth that we live in a materialistic society; the effects of this world, though, are not always apparent. The temptation to become caught up in material and monetary wealth for its own sake consumes some humans; others find wealth in their spiritual beliefs, passions, and relationships. Relationships, though not always regarded as the highest collateral damage of societal pressures, often suffer when one or all involved take their focus off the delicate makeup of interpersonal intimacy. Emily Bronte depicts this unfortunate reality in Wuthering Heights. Her characters Catherine and Heathcliff suffer under societal pressures to achieve status, and pay the price for their uninformed choices. Bronte’s views about this human phenomenon burn through her writing, giving it an honest and, at times, hopeless storyline that asks readers to stay true to their love and themselves and to forsake all that leaves a human being empty.

Hannah Moore, “Inaugural Addresses and the American Identity: Analysis of the Inaugural Addresses of George Washington and Donald Trump”

Through a rhetorical analysis of the first presidential speeches of George Washington and Donald Trump, I argue that inaugural addresses have remained consistent in content but have changed linguistically over time. All addresses similarly define national identity, particularly in relation to civil religion, American values, and beliefs about the country itself. However, since 1960 inaugural addresses have become simpler and more accessible due to changes in society and technology. To identify these similarities and changes, I offer a close reading of the addresses of our first and most recent presidents.

Jessie Rice, “The Value of Dystopian Societies”

My paper explores how George Orwell’s 1984 teaches readers the importance of literature and language and how they influence how and what we think. School curricula include 1984 today in order to demonstrate how powerful words can be. My presentation raises questions about political power, education, and freedom of speech.

Michael Smith, “Reading the Dream Diary: Learning Empathy by Discovering Meaning in Yume Nikki

Yume Nikki is a cult classic indie game that uses dreaming as a lens to explore trauma, loneliness, and suicide, but you’d never guess any of these things just by looking at it. The graphics are antiquated, the hallways and hells they portray reveal nothing at a casual glance, and Yume Nikki does little to offer the player fun mechanical challenges. The structure of Yume Nikki presents a mystery to the player but refuses to provide a clear solution. By finding patterns, deducing underlying rules, and theorizing possible backstories for Madotsuki, the player engages in critical learning, and along the way comes to understand Yume Nikki’s protagonist far better than he or she ever could have through reading dialogue. This process of learning and the intimate understanding it creates evoke the powerful empathetic responses that have made the game an enduring influence.

Sam Temples, “’Oh, that dirty war’: Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises as a Trauma Novel”

Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises can be read as a trauma novel, a genre that depicts the psychological injuries that war veterans suffer. By reading deeper into the text, we understand the trauma that haunts World War I veteran Jake Barnes and the charming Lady Brett Ashley. Jake and Brett grapple with loss as they try to piece together their shattered identities. Engaging in frivolous behaviors to cope with their suffering, they only mask their issues, leaving their traumas still very real and alive. By uncovering the deep trauma laced throughout The Sun Also Rises, I open conversations about how literature not only explores trauma but also suggests strategies to cope with it.

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