2020 HURF Recipients
Major: History Faculty Mentor: Lindsay Mazurek
Project Title: Sexed Bodies, Sexless Souls: The Debate Over Women’s Bodies and Minds in Greco-Roman Antiquity
This project explores how Classical Greek philosophers and medical writers explained the female body and how their ideas affected perceptions of female identity and women’s roles in classical antiquity. In Greek and Roman societies, women were seen as deformed versions of men, naturally servile, and unable to exercise free will. Supposedly scientific understandings of female anatomy within antiquity – laid out by Hippocratic, Platonic, and Aristotelian thinkers – cemented these ideas and created a biological justification for the rigid patriarchal norms of the Classical and Hellenistic Mediterranean. Though there is a general understanding within contemporary scholarship that women existed in a rigidly gendered culture, less attention has been paid to how prevailing scientific ideas about women’s bodies intervened in discussions of gender in classical antiquity.
To address this gap, this project provides a critical gendered analysis of key medical and philosophical texts from Classical Greece and the late Roman Empire that argue for female incompleteness in their interpretation of gender. In particular, this project will focus on the contrasting Platonic and Stoic views with those of later Aristotelian and early Christian authors on the female soul and mind. While Plato in the Republic asserted that women’s souls were sexless and that they, therefore, could be educated like men, Aristotle asserted that every aspect of women, including their soul and mind, was inferior to that of men. These ideas were reflected in many works of later Greek and Roman writers, including the works of later Roman and early Christian writers Musonius Rufus, Galen, and Augustine of Hippo. In understanding how dominant social forces perceived the female body and mind as inadequate, this project seeks to advance our understanding of disparate bodies of ancient scientific thought worked together to construct discriminatory social mores and practices.
Major: Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Faculty Mentor: Judith Raiskin
Project Title: The Linguistic Implications of the Discourse of Sexuality in Southern Oregon Lesbian Lands
The 1970’s and 80’s held tremendous significance in the history of women’s intentional living communities. In Southern Oregon, lesbian lands popped up along the rural portions of the I-5 corridor, running from Eugene to Northern California. These lands served as women’s-only communities that were largely self-sufficient and created an entire subculture of a lesbian network that spanned across the United States. The mid-late 1970’s were a period of revolution due to the uptick in second-wave feminism and the gay liberation movement, and these lands served as an intersection right in the middle of these two issues. Lesbian separatism was a radical and controversial political strategy that deserves more thought than it’s been given in the academic sphere.
I am interested in understanding how women on these lands talked about and understood sexuality and the identification markers of women who loved women. The queer community as we know it is ever-evolving in its understanding of acceptable linguistic terminology, and it is worth understanding where that language began. The Southern Oregon lesbian lands gives insight into one of the first geographic spaces where same-gender attraction could be freely and candidly discussed. I hope to understand and better categorize how sexuality was understood and what linguistic terms meant in the context of their era. In my initial research, I have found that the term ‘lesbian’ is better understood as a catch-all word for all of women’s same-gender attraction– meaning that includes multi-gender attracted women. This research will give better insight into how umbrella terms, like lesbian, affect who is included (and excluded) in both the 1970’s and 80’s, and in current times. This linguistic evolution will give important context to why certain terms are used and what the implications of those uses are.
Major: Art History Faculty Mentor: Nina Amstutz
Project Title: The Use of Fashion in the Portraits of John Singer Sargent
I have found myself captivated by the female portraits of the nineteenth century American painter, John Singer Sargent, as I am sure many viewers have. My captivation is prompted by elegant posing, soft features and elaborate dress. It is in this visually compelling display of contemporary fashion that I find a point of fascination and an angle in need of investigation. Sargent’s close relationship with Carolus-Duran and the impressionist painters influences his bright palette and loose brushwork in the surroundings and clothing of his sitters but while Sargent was bordering on the avant-garde radical in both technique and modernist associations, he believed strongly in the established academic tradition and the Salon where he was frequently well-reviewed. This ambiguousness in identity that we see in Sargent’s blend of classicism and modernism, is an ambiguity that repeats itself in the artist’s life such as his desire to remain an American citizen although he was raised in Europe or his close relationship with the nineteenth century queer community. I strongly believe Sargent’s portraits offer more than just flattering images of elite modern women, they can reveal a contemporary understanding of the identity politics of his age. With this in mind, how, if at all, does Sargent’s own conception of identity project onto his portrayal of these enchanting women? Fashion is often the centerpiece of his portraits with fabrics that have a nervously animated quality and in many circumstances were selected by the artist himself. Sargent’s use of fashion could reveal a fascinating understanding of contemporary gender and social identity. With this research I aim to answer how Sargent uses fashion as a means of conveying and reflecting ideas about identity in nineteenth century Europe and North America.
Major: English Faculty Mentor: Priscilla Ovalle
Project Title: Genderqueerness in Contemporary Horror Films
As a film genre, horror is known for its complicated construction of gendered bodies on the screen, from its grotesque depictions of the monstrous to the often-fearful movement of its protagonists from frame to frame. Feminist film critics like Carol Clover (author of Men, Women, and Chainsaws, 1992) and Barbara Creed (author of The Monstrous Feminine, 1993) have previously worked to name the phenomena that underline these depictions of gender in horror films. But by focusing on bodies through a heteronormative lens, they fail to consider what depictions of gender outside the binary might look like. This oversight leaves a significant gap in scholarly work that addresses the social significance of filmmakers expressing the inbetweenness of gender as either othering or liberating to viewers.
This project investigates the ways in which genderqueerness, or the in-between of gender, is constructed and expressed in contemporary horror films such as Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In (2008) and Paul Schrader’s 1982 remake of Jacques Tourner’s Cat People (1942) in order to understand the social attitudes and significance of genderqueer expression in horror films. By close reading and analyzing these films using queer theory and media theory, I dialogue with scholars like Clover and Creed as well as queer studies works like Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw (1995) and Riki Wilchins’ Genderqueer (2002) in order to consider the social significance of these constructions. As I connect these films to their social implications, I argue that binary approaches in critical horror film analysis ultimately limit the audience from seeing and naming the multitudinous, varied depictions of gender expressed on the screen. It is imperative that we create scholarly work that considers and challenges the boundaries of heteronormative film readings in order to make media studies (and the humanities as a whole) a more inclusive, generative space that pushes critics and readers alike to pursue more comprehensive textual analyses.
Major: Journalism and Public Relations Faculty Mentor: Dean Mundy
Project Title: Strategic Communications at Rajneeshpuram
Rajneeshpuram was a commune in central Oregon that was supported by the followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian guru practicing experimental therapy and a quasi-religion. The commune quickly came into conflict with the nearby retirement town, Antelope, and later the greater Oregon community of Wasco County, state courts, federal courts, and opposition organizations. The Rajneesh movement dominated the news, and the constant updates and statements put out by the Rajneesh press office, newspapers, and spokespersons meant the Rajneesh were covered constantly in the news. There is evidence that suggests that the commune acted purposefully to attract news for strategic gains. My central research question is: how did Rajneeshpuram use strategic communication to garner free publicity and what was the role of sensationalism in attracting free news coverage?
Using UO’s Special Collections Rajneesh Archive, I plan to analyze news stories in the form of newspaper clippings, magazines, notes from reporters covering Rajneeshpuram, Rajneesh ephemera, manuals, brochures, and any current Rajneeshee literature. I plan to look specifically for new stories that were sensationalist in coverage by analyzing headlines, bylines, leads of articles, and the language surrounding the commune. I also plan to analyze new stories that were made sensationalist by the members of the Rajneesh movement through sensationalist tactics by analyzing the language and content used by the Rajneesh channels. I expect to conclude that the commune Rajneeshpuram wanted as much coverage as possible and learn more about the tactics used at Rajneeshpuram to gain free publicity.
Major: English Faculty Mentor: Heidi Kaufman
Project Title: Murderess in the Headlines
True crime intrigues people with its stories of unsettled mysteries, grotesque motives, and gruesome scenes. Murderers from over a hundred years ago, such as Jack the Ripper and H. H. Holmes, continue to draw public interest. As we seek to understand why people murder, we tend to overlook the way these murderers have been mythologized. In this project, I will study the way newspaper writing worked to invent murderers. While the majority of these criminals tend to be men, this project will instead consider two murderesses: Belle Gunness (1859-1908) and Amy Archer-Gilligan (1873-1962). On the surface, these women appeared to live ordinary and productive lives. Yet, in distinct ways, they both pushed against the societal norms of domestic femininity to become sensational figures in the American press. This project will examine the ways the press constructed these murderesses for public consumption. How, for example, did the papers bring together contemporary understanding of criminality and femininity?
Major: English Faculty Mentor: Forest Pyle
Project Title: Cultural Hyperobjectivity: From Shelley to the 21st Century Instagram User
My work of undergraduate research seeks to perform a comparative and analytical study of the romantic poetry of the 19th century, in particular that of Percy Bysse Shelley, with contemporary literature and digital texts of today. Examples of contemporary texts my project will examine are the 2018 film Eighth Grade (dir. Bo Burnham), the 2017 poetry book Nature Poem by Tommy Pico, and Douglas Rushkoff’s 2013 work Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, among others. I will bring the cultural and literary criticism of the 20th century in as an intermediary between these two distinct literary eras and traditions. Beyond this purpose of acting as a temporal intermediary, the foundation of this project in literary theory will empower this project to interpret and go beyond reputable, established cultural theory written in different contexts. I will focus on the work of the critical work of theorists such as Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Giles Deleuze, and Fredric Jameson. Each of these moving parts will be strung together by Timothy Morton’s concept of hyperobjects and ecological thinking. My work will show how the technologies which produce culture today have created numerous hyperobjects which pervade the production and interpretation of contemporary narratives and subjects. The relationship with self and culture experienced in the romantic period has erupted to exist everywhere in the Internet age. Through the method building on the work of the 20th century cultural theorists and Shelley’s poetry, I will begin to piece together what that means for the 21st century reader and critic.
Major: Political Science Faculty Mentor: Dan Tichenor
Project Title: Cultivating Self-Determination: Food Sovereignty as a Challenge to Neoliberal Coloniality in Puerto Rico
Food sovereignty – the right of communities to define and control their own food and agricultural policies – has increasingly become a rallying call for a particular strain of food justice activism around the globe. Going beyond a focus on food security, food sovereignty invokes an explicitly political critique of the larger structures producing cases of food injustice, especially neoliberalism, free-trade policies, and capital-intensive industrial agriculture. Advocating for democratic control and a greater distribution of wealth, knowledge, power, and land, food sovereignty work through agroecology is a key avenue for political resistance to neoliberal coloniality as it appears in Puerto Rico today, a site where food has been a key means of colonial control and subjugation. Cultivating self-reliance through attention to food production thus carries radical political implications and can be understood as part of a broader struggle for democratic self-determination, visible especially in the post-Maria context and highlighted by the #RickyRenuncia protests that marked the summer of 2019. My thesis explores these dynamics by working with grassroots organizations and agroecology collectives to see how the movement has operated as a direct challenge to deep-rooted conditions of coloniality — in both theory and practice — and how food sovereignty has been linked to larger questions of Puerto Rican political sovereignty and self-determination. My participatory ethnographic fieldwork also explores the intersectionality of the colonial experience as it relates to gender and sexuality and is framed theoretically by a feminist and queer decolonial perspective. This research fills a hole in the literature by applying decolonial and critical theory to a case study often overlooked in the field as a result of Puerto Rico’s complicated geopolitical relationship with the US.
2019 HURF Recipients
Major: Linguistics and Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies Faculty Mentor: Melissa Baese-Berk
Project Title: Dialect Variation in English: An Investigation into the Disappearing Word Effect
Recent research (e.g., Dilley & Pitt, 2010) has demonstrated that manipulation of speech rate influences listeners’ perception of syllables in English. For example, when a sentence like Don must see the harbor or boats is spoken quickly, the underlined portion can blend together, creating an utterance that is ambiguous with a sentence like Don must see the harbor boats. Slowing down the surrounding speech rate (i.e., the non-underlined portion) can cause a listener’s perception of the sentence to switch from the harbor or boats version to the harbor boats version. This effect is driven by expectation: When listeners hear a slower speaking rate, they expect to hear fewer words than when they hear a faster rate. However, this result has typically only been investigated in “standard” American English, not in dialects that may differ in terms of their production and how they are perceived. That is, research has not yet considered how social context influences this effect. Specifically, by building on the previous results demonstrating a context speech rate effect we can delve into the effects of dialect variation.This project will ask how various dialects of American English impact the perception of syllables in conversational, every day speech. We plan to compare Southern speech with New York City speech. We anticipate that southern speech may be less susceptible to this effect because listeners expect Southern speech to be slower than New York City speech. This project is critically important because dialect information in someone’s speech can result in serious social judgements, and can also significantly impact how the speech is understood. Investigating how various dialects interact with cognitive mechanisms like this context speech rate effect can allow inquiry in how social factors and cognitive factors interact more generally speaking, allow us to better understand human communication.
Major: Anthropology Faculty Mentor: Lamia Karim
Project Title: “I can make people in my tears”: An Urban Anthropological Study of Homeless Women in Eugene Oregon
Why is there such an increase in homelessness, particularly among women, in the United States? I propose to study this phenomenon among homeless women in Eugene, OR. Recent scholarship and federal counts of homelessness show that the number of homeless people has been steadily increasing since the 1980s, with a sizable increase in women and their children. Research from Europe, Canada, and large U.S. cities show the insecurities that women face living on the streets. Oregon, in particular, has one of the largest homeless counts in the country, currently ranking fourth in the nation. Women’s unique social vulnerabilities and responsibilities as caregivers make homeless their experiences an important site of study in order to understand the causes of homelessness, as well as to offer pragmatic solutions. This is an urban anthropological research project that is composed of (a) archival research on policy changes from 1980s onward in Eugene; (b) oral histories from 5 homeless women as to the causes of their homelessness: and (c) interviews with the directors of three homeless shelters in the city of Eugene.
The objectives are to examine the causes of women’s homelessness in America, Oregon, and Eugene, as well as analyze and give voice to the gendered experiences and impacts of homelessness on women. My preliminary reading of the literature shows that women experience homelessness due to domestic violence, inability to pay medical and rental bills, and mental illness. However, there are also women who never expected to be homeless due to middle-class lifestyle that they lost unexpectedly. My research will explore key reasons for homelessness in Eugene, OR as well as compare how homeless women navigate between the unstructured street life and the highly structured shelter life, and if that is a handicap to their transition to assimilation into the housed world.
Major: History Faculty Mentor: Lindsey Mazurek
Project Title: Migration in the Bronze Age Near East
This project will explore migration in the Bronze Age Near East. The Amarna letters—correspondence between the rulers of several Bronze Age kingdoms, notably Egypt and Babylonia—mention the movement of people such as craftsmen and royal women to other polities, illustrating the importance of migration for international relations. Despite these mentions, most scholarship focuses exclusively on Bronze Age kings and their priorities. This project aims to combine archaeology with literature to offer a new, more holistic approach. It will focus on four types of migrants often omitted from previous works: craftsmen, brides, forced migration (as of captives), and even gods.
These people’s perspectives differ noticeably from those of the kings—that is, the elite male view—that is most often discussed in relation to the world of the Amarna letters. These case studies can reframe our understandings of these groups: rather than being those making decisions and deciding their own movements, these groups were most often controlled by those with power. This project thus aims to re-examine narratives of Near Eastern mobility during the Bronze Age through these groups and their migrations, and offer new perspectives that complement existing histories.
Major: English and Humanities Faculty Mentor: Mark Whalan
Project Title: Literary Racialization: The Function of Children in Southern Gothic Literature
Children, who occupy a unique position as creatures of innocence in the American psyche, have haunted the pages of American Gothic literature from its inception, vulnerable figures in whom cultural and psychological anxieties find fecund ground. As such, they have featured critically in racial discourses as well, from slavery and abolition to Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement. Gothic literature’s exploration of the dark, antagonistic elements of the human mind enables Southern Gothic writers to examine the violent underbelly of the American dream—the removal of indigenous peoples, slavery, and white supremacy—with unique license. This project will investigate how, within this critical context, relatively under-examined Modern Southern Gothic works such as Eudora Welty’s “Delta Cousins,” Richard Wright’s “Big Boy Leaves Home,” and William Faulkner’s “The Bear” reimagine American Gothic’s traditional depiction of race as “the specter of otherness” (Eric Savoy, “The Face of the Tenant: A Theory of American Gothic”) by portraying the racialization of children. From the foreclosure of black male childhood to the adopted innocence of white girlhood and the fraught figure of the mixed child, Gothic children become a device by which the South’s history of racism, playing out in the lives of literary children, is critically explored. I will examine the work of these authors with a variety of lenses—Gothic, historical, racial, and modernistic—looking at Teresa Goddu’s Gothic America: Narrative, History, and Nation, Fred Botting’s Gothic, Robin Bernstein’s Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights, as well as the seminal Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination by Toni Morrison.
Major: Asian Studies and Linguistics Faculty Mentor: Kaori Idemaru
Project Title: The Role of Intonation in Japanese Politeness
The purpose of this study is to examine linguistic relationships between phonetics (the way people sound) and politeness in Japanese. Prior studies investigated voice characteristics in Japanese deferential speech (addressed to persons of superior social status) and non-deferential speech (used with persons of equal or inferior status). They found that the Japanese language exploits phonetic features to express politeness (Idemaru et al, forthcoming). Their study, however, observed overall intonation for entire utterances. I propose to conduct a more detailed analysis of their data, by dividing utterances into meaningful phrases in order to determine where in a sentence intonation is employed to express politeness. Understanding how and where important social cues like politeness are embedded in speech is critical for understanding how communications work in Japanese society and also for developing language and cultural fluency, particularly for non-native language learners.
Traditional research on politeness typically focused on type of words and grammatical features used to communicate politeness in various languages. However, a new wave of research began examining other dimensions such as voice characteristics and gestures (e.g., Winter and Grawunder, 2012; Brown et al 2014; Idemaru et al., forthcoming) with the theoretical view that speakers employ multiple politeness strategies to ensure successful communication. Their results indeed demonstrate that multiple linguistic and non-linguistic features contribute to produce the intended meaning of politeness. This study attempts to advance these efforts further. I will use the same data analyzed in Idemaru et al. (forthcoming) to measure and analyze important acoustic features (pitch, intensity, voice quality) at critical regions within words or phrases. This study will yield a more accurate understanding of the phonetic basis for one of the most fundamental Japanese social cues – politeness.
Major: Journalism and Advertising Faculty Mentor: Peter Laufer
Project Title: An Exploration of Urban Art as Cultural Testimony Throughout Social Movements in Mexico City and Oaxaca
In recent years, urban art has grown increasingly prominent in the public sphere across both Mexico City and Oaxaca, but its roots reside back in the early 1920s and the time of the Mexican Revolution. From 1910 to 1920, the Mexican government jumpstarted the muralist movement out of concern with “defining a new ‘Mexican’ character,’ and unifying the nation of divided maderistas, carrancistas, villistas, zapatistas (etc.) into one of mexicanos. Yet this mission is regarded by many of today’s urban artists and other community members as inauthentic – a manipulation of art to influence an audience’s understanding of society and self. With this project, I am attempting to answer the following questions: Is art in today’s public space inherently political? Who are these works intended for? Do they potentially act as cultural testimony? And how do their funding sources serve to convolute the message this art tells, potentially manipulating the cultural identity of a place or people?
I have already conducted one round of in-person interviews with urban artists in both Mexico City and Oaxaca, and will be returning this winter to ask more questions that will yield a wider variety of perspectives. Note that these Interviews will continue to be conducted through a historical and political lens, and ultimately, my project will attempt to show the correlation between art and public discourse, and use these perspectives to challenge the notion that art in the public space is inherently democratic. In the tumultuous political landscape of today, now is as important a time as ever to reflect on the ways different communities use media to encapsulate their social climate and effect social change. I am looking forward to sharing my results – as well as digital photographs – through in a formal thesis defense and any relevant conference settings.
Major: English and Spanish Faculty Mentor: Kate Myers
Project Title: Caliban Yisrael: The Jewish “Other” in Shakespeare’s The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice
This paper seeks to introduce and integrate new data into the centuries-long discussion of William Shakespeare’s portrayal of Jewish people in his literary works through intertextual and close reading of Shakespeare’s plays The Tempest and the Merchant of Venice, sections from the Old Testament and Jewish Tanahk, and primary documents discussing Jewish life during the Elizabethan era.
Shakespeare’s relationship to and views of Jewish people have been subject to scrutiny for centuries. However, almost all conclusions put forth in academia about Shakespeare and his ties to Elizabethan Jewish communities and anti-Semitism have been drawn from one work, The Merchant of Venice, which contains Shakespeare’s only explicitly Jewish character, Shylock (as well as his daughter, Jessica, although she later happily converts to Christianity). In this paper, I propose that Shakespeare has another Jewish character lurking in his plays, although his Jewishness is implicit, rather than explicit. In the first part of this paper, I will support the interpretation of Caliban from The Tempest as a Jewish-coded figure through cross-reading The Tempest with sections of the Old Testament, Tanahk, and the Merchant of Venice, as well as non-fiction testimonials from both Jewish and non-Jewish Englanders during the Elizabethan era. I will then use Caliban’s characterization as an entry point into re-interpreting and understanding the character of Shylock from the Merchant of Venice. Using both these plays alongside the other texts, I will bring cultural and historical context to these portrayals in order to explore a deeper understanding of the complicated and nuanced portrayals of Judaism in Shakespeare’s work and the dynamics of modern scholarship on Shakespeare’s relationship to Judaism.
Major: English Faculty Mentor: Gordon Sayre
Project Title: Antagonistic River: The Agency of Nature in Northwest Fiction
This research will evaluate the representation of the fictional Wakonda Auga River as a character in Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel Sometimes a Great Notion. By investigating Kesey’s personal journals and correspondence, I will show how Kesey took his native Oregon, the natural world in which he lived, and wrote it into his story. Rivers are traditionally viewed in English literature as a component of setting or as a metaphorical representation of some human dilemma. Occasionally, a fantastical work will give an element of nature agency by giving it human characteristics like speech or movement or some combination thereof. Yet, a river is a force unto itself, and it interacts with the human animal in its own ways, both positively and negatively. Ecocriticism offers a ground for exploring how rivers can be given agency without adding anthropocentric characteristics. Through the ecocritical theoretical lens, readers can evaluate the natural components of a text, understand the figurative or metaphoric meanings, and still read nature for its powerful literal meaning. I will use this lens to evaluate the text and show how Kesey represented the Wakonda Auga River in the novel as both a fictive place, one based on the actual Siuslaw River, and as a character in conflict with other characters in the story. By reading Sometimes a Great Notion in this way, readers gain access to the historical world of Kesey’s Oregon and the fictive world of an Oregon mill town in the 1960s, and they are encouraged to explore today the natural places associated with both.
2018 HURF Recipients
Major: Environmental Studies Faculty Mentor: Kathryn Lynch
Project Title: Managing for Mushrooms? Commercial Wild Mushroom Harvesting in the Willamette National Forest
This research will examine the extent Willamette National Forest’s natural resource management policies affect commercial wild mushroom pickers in Oregon. The history of land ownership and management in the United States is wrought in controversy and tied to social justice – from the violent removal of Native Americans from their land to other public/private land battles, such as the recent Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation. In the contiguous United States, public land accounts for over 40 percent of the total land area and in Oregon just over 30 percent. And the public is meant to be able to access and have a voice in the management of these lands according to the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act. This includes people who rely on public lands for their livelihoods – such as commercial, wild mushroom harvesters. There has been little investment in managing lands for mushrooms along with little research, inventory or basic monitoring by forest managers. Although researchers, such as McLain, Arora, and Jones, have written on wild mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest, scholarship is still in its infancy. This research will try to fill some of the research gaps concerning wild mushroom harvesters and land management in Oregon. My research methods will include: a review of the literature on commercial wild mushroom harvesters and land management in the Pacific Northwest, a text analysis of the Willamette National Forest’s natural resource planning documents, and interviews (with wild mushroom harvesters and buyers, land managers, and experts in related fields). The management of our public lands for wild mushroom harvesters has larger implications for how we manage our forests sustainably and inclusively for all people. Moreover, the social problems within wild mushroom management, such as power imbalances, class and ethnic divisions, and ideological struggle, mirror large-scale environmental justice issues.
Major: Asian Studies Program Faculty Mentor: Kaori Idemaru
Project Title: Japanese Gendered Language and the Ideal Female Romantic Partner
The goal of my honors thesis is to explore how gendered language, or lack thereof, is utilized in Japanese society to perpetuate feminine ideals in the media. Specifically, I want to focus on how the ideal female romantic partner is portrayed in modern media through the use of language. Japanese has been considered a very gendered language. However, more recent research has questioned whether the description of gendered features in Japanese reflects language ideology or language reality. For example, in 2004, Janet Shibamoto-Smith investigated language and its use as a cultural model for romance, specifically looking at how language was used by the protagonists of romance novels in the 1980s and 1990s in Japan. Similarly, I want to explore how idol music and popular television shows serve as models for romance and ideal female partners in contemporary society. Following the methodology set up by Shibamoto-Smith, I will develop a retrospective study and a corpus study to investigate language use in the media of the 2000s and 2010s in order to analyze the linguistic representations of an ideal female partner. I expect to find the use of gendered markers, and lack thereof, to correlate with the type of ideal being portrayed in the media, as substantiated by the society in which this media exists.
Major: Media Studies Faculty Mentor: Erin Hanna
Project Title: The Anti-Heroine: an Emergent Television Character Trope
Television’s anti-heroes have long raked in high ratings and delivered audiences with devilishly corrupt but ultimately sympathetic viewpoints. Recent exemplars such as Tony Soprano, Don Draper, and Dexter Morgan are rarely ethical and far from heroic, which has led to a wide breadth of scholarship about male characters who skirt the boundaries between regular life and outlaw culture. For example, Brett Martin’s Difficult Men and Amanda Lotz’ Cable Guys explore masculinity on television that is predicated on breaking societal norms. What the existing scholarship fails to fully address—and where my research project intervenes—is a thorough analysis of the anti-heroine, a television genre that has grown rapidly in recent years.
My research launches from Kathleen Karlyn’s The Unruly Woman, an early examination of women in film and television who use humor to undermine patriarchal authority. Margaret Tally’s The Rise of the Anti-Heroine in TV’s Third Golden Age is the first text to explore the emergence of the anti-heroine. My project extends past Tally’s work to look specifically at how anti-heroines have become a dominate feature of quality television.
Quality television is a category that loosely refers to series with narrative complexity, high production values, and characters with psychological depth. My three case studies, Sex and the City, Veep, and Girls, are Home Box Office (HBO) productions. I focus on HBO productions because the single network allows me to draw on consistent industry information, viewership demographics, and critical accolades. The anti-heroines from my case studies might be difficult or even unlikeable—but they do address and challenge traditional femininity (whereas anti-heroes reinforce hegemonic masculinity). Do anti-heroines have more agency over their personal and professional lives than other leading ladies? What underlies America’s fixation with immoral women? These are just a couple of the questions guiding my preliminary research.
Major: Environmental Studies Faculty Mentor: Steven Brence
Project Title: Examining Personhood and Environmental Policy: Determining the Benefits and Risks of Granting Legal Rights to Non-Human Entities
This project aims to determine the overall effectiveness of the Whanganui River Settlement Claims legislation, the ethical veracity of its central tenant that aims to grant legal personhood to the Whanganui River, and whether this recognition and protection afforded to the Whanganui River should be utilized as a model for other nations in the effort to protect and preserve our natural landscapes, resources, and cultural heritage. Using the Whanganui River as a case study, I intend to determine the best and most effective means of protecting these personal relationships with the natural world. Should we grant them personhood? What are the dangers and pitfalls of such bold action? Incorporating these spiritual perceptions and ideologies will tremendously bolster the protections afforded our public lands and waters, while helping to shift our culture back to one that appreciates each individuals relationship with the natural world, and our species indelible connection to it. In order to preserve cultural belief systems and practices, the integrity of natural landscapes, and the shared benefits of the natural world, it is essential to determine places of spiritual, cultural, and environmental importance should be granted legal standing, and if not, what the most effective means of protection and recognition are.
Major: English & Comparative Literature Faculty Mentor: Brendan O’Kelly
Project Title: Philosophy, Politics, and Paranoia: Pynchon and the Construction of the Postmodern Subject
Paranoia generally pathologized as an unproductive condition. Yet, paranoia itself is one of the most prominent tropes of the postmodern novel, the most quintessential example of this being Thomas Pynchon’s 1966 novel, The Crying of Lot 49. Drawing on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s theorizations of paranoid knowing and reparative reading, my research will reparatively read paranoia as an alternative site of meaning making and knowledge production. By reading Pynchon’s novel for its attention to the “paranoid” sociopolitical climate of the 1960s in California, my research seeks to rethink paranoia within postmodern literary forms and landscapes as an epistemological method for posing questions about the political subject. I will construct a working definition of postmodern subjectivity operating within Pynchon’s novel in order observe how those notions of the subject inform our own troubling sociopolitical climate. My reparative definition of the paranoid subject may prove useful for navigating the politics of despair that imbue both contemporary understandings of postmodern subjectivity and those of the 1960s.
By means of literary analysis, archival, and publicly available research at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Oregon, I will engage with critics’ and historians’ understandings of the 1960s in California as they gave rise to a revolutionary politics that remains in tension with itself today. This tension being the conflicting poles between revolutionary reinvention and historical remembrance and recovery that often define our conceptions of linear historical trajectory, or progress. These understandings of political subjectivity will remain useful when read alongside Pynchon’s understanding of the postmodern subject, especially as I engage with these thoughts, and their variations, across the Sunbelt states.
My research seeks to foster a dialogue about ongoing theorizations of subjectivity while rethinking the literary tropes of postmodernity within their gendered, philosophical, and political contexts.
Major: English & Journalism Faculty Mentor: Corbett Upton
Project Title: Sense of Place in Contemporary Female American Poets: Indigenous and Immigrant Voices
In current national discourse, what it means to be “American” has become a polarizing issue. In a country built on immigrant labor, the otherness of immigrants has become a point of extreme xenophobia, while indigenous culture continues to be erased. In this context, my research intends to explore the poetics of three Asian-American, Latinx, and indigenous American female poets to determine how they construct senses of place in contemporary America outside of the normative narrative, or, in the words of Wilbur Zelinsky, how these women “see beyond the dominant culture” and establish counter-places within it. Focusing on Louise Erdrich, Ada Limón, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, poets well-recognized for the role of place within their work, this project will apply an array of lenses, political, environmental, and social, to determine the alternatives to American identity these poets provide. More specifically, since the female perspective tends to be overlooked in the dominant patriarchal discourse, this project will examine the intersections of ethnicity and gender in order to understand how these poets present a particularly social or communal sense of place. Critical sources include selections from Wendell Berry’s Home Economics; texts devoted to an indigenous sense of place, such as Louise Erdrich’s Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country and works by Leslie Marmon Silko and Winona LaDuke; and essays by Doreen Massey and Janice Monk that address the role of gender in the construction of a sense of place. The purpose of my research is to create a richer and more inclusive understanding of the spectrum of American identity in contemporary poetics.
2017 HURF Recipients
Major: International Studies and Spanish Faculty Mentor: Dan Tichenor
Project Title: Current Cuban Migration: Manifestations of Political Privilege and Economic Violence
Abstract: How are policies and geopolitical relations between Cuba, Central America, and the United States generating a new increase of Cuban migration and what is the impact on both migrants and citizens of the nations involved? This question provides an exploration of the stark contradictions in economic and immigration politics in the region between these key sending, transit, and receiving states. On the one hand, more than any country in history, Cuba has experienced the longest and most severe economic sanctions than any other country by the U.S. embargo, currently lasting 56 years, causing indirect violence in the form of restricted access to medications and resources. On the other hand, Cubans are the only nationality in the world that the United States provides the exceptional privilege of automatic refugee status upon arriving in the United States. While there are a wide variety of economic and commercial sanctions on Cuba, there are also a multitude of U.S. policies that enable and encourage the immigration of Cubans, specifically working, educated professionals. These seemingly contradictory angles of geopolitics facilitate economic suffering and incentivize a “brain drain” with the aim of weakening Cuba’s socialist government and imposing a democratic society as defined by the U.S. For context, Guatemalans who are fleeing extreme cases of femicide, organized violence, and violent identity-based discrimination have their asylum requests accepted at a rate of 1.8% and are labeled by United States government entities as merely economic migrants; meanwhile, Cubans, leaving the island primarily for economic opportunity, receive an automatic, federally sanctioned status of “refugee” and are provided benefits such as work visas, healthcare, higher education scholarships, and eligibility to gain citizenship after residing in the United States for a year and one day. My research focuses on Cuban migrants as they pass through Central America, which reveals the contradictory nature of discrepancies in the treatment of immigrants for political reasons. My research is propelled by the ample requests from both Cubans and Mexicans for research on the political history that informs the recent migration of Cubans. The purpose of my research is to illustrate how both U.S. economic and immigration policies toward Cuba, including the current negotiations between Presidents Obama and Raul Castro, impact and shape the regional politics as well as reinforce the inequitable, if not discriminatory, effects on migrants from Central America, the very region that Cubans are passing through to get the United States.
Major: Linguistics Faculty Mentor: Melissa Baese-Berk
Project Title: The Role of the Listener in Nonnative Speech Perception Research
Awards Related to this Research Project:
2017 Division of Undergraduate Studies Oral Presentation Award
Abstract: Difficulties in speech communication can be caused by a number of factors related to the speaker, the listener, or the environment. Reaching a shared understanding may be more challenging in a conversation between a nonnative speaker and a native or naïve listener (i.e., a listener who is unfamiliar with the accent of the non-native speaker), than it is between two speakers who share a language background. Since the 1980s, language researchers have investigated how nonnative accented speakers and native or naïve listeners overcome communication difficulties using a number of research designs. Here, I propose a review of nonnative speech perception experiments that examines how the listener is portrayed in the manuscript. Is the listener a participant used as a tool in the experimental design to measure qualities of the stimuli (i.e., representations of the nonnative speaker), or are the qualities of the listener—such as language background and cognitive skills—what is being measured? By examining the role of the listener in experimental design, previous research can be sorted into two design categories, which I refer to as tool and contributor frameworks. Observing the use of tool and contributor frameworks over time may provide important insight into whether previous research methodologies have approached the subject holistically
Major: Anthropology and Romance Languages Faculty Mentor: Carol Silverman
Project Title: Before the Spectacle: Shaping Gender and Class in Beirut’s Beauty Salons
Abstract: “Beirut, in the words of one designer…is like a third world country that’s put on some makeup” writes Rima Suqi in a recent article in the New York Times. Indeed, scholars worldwide have coined Beirut the trendsetting beauty 68 city of the Middle East. Striking evidence for this [“this” here would refer to the nickname, not the phenomenon itself includes 2007 National Bank of Lebanon billboards advertising plastic surgery loans and long lines of women waiting outside beauty salons every weekend. Contemporary discourse on the popularity of beauty work in Lebanon is often explained by the reaction to the Lebanese Civil War, and by individualistic attitudes celebrating life, glamour, and living in the moment. However, such assumptions overlook the extent to which familial and social networks constitute the body in Beirut’s interconnected and visual society. My research explores: 1) How social pressure from family members and close friends to engage in beauty work supports the patriarchal family structure; 2) How beauty work in Beirut can become a medium of social distinction among different classes of women; 2) How beauty work may contribute to or resist women’s subordination in society. To complement my salon research, I also examine how public sites such as nightclubs and bars influence the type of beauty work done in salons. In order to achieve this, I study 4) how men and women perform and display their beauty, gender and class in public sites. Most previous studies of Lebanon’s beauty culture focus on the growing number of cosmetic surgery procedures; in contrast, my research addresses non-invasive beauty work.
Major: Journalism Faculty Mentor: Brent Walth
Project Title: Seeking Truth through Investigative Memoir
Abstract: My project seeks to define the emerging genre of the investigative memoir—memoirs, like David Carr’s The Night of The Gun, that use journalistic methods to report out one’s life and tell one’s story. In order to do so, I compare and contrast genres of memoir and autobiography with literary and narrative journalism, then analyze instances in which the genres have been blended in journalists writing memoir. I also analyze how each genre defines truth and how their respective authors set out to discover the truth in different ways. After conducting my research, I will use what I have learned to write a book proposal for my own investigative memoir about my father’s secret criminal past in Chicago, using public records, archives and interviews to report out formative events of my childhood. The purpose of this research is to examine and analyze the intersection of memoir and narrative journalism and each genre’s search for “truth.” This combination of genres has been scarcely discussed by scholars in my preliminary research thus far. Few attempts have been made to reconcile the two genre’s different definitions of truth – whether one person’s perception of an event is truer than another’s, and how authors can use public records and interviews to add credibility to their “unreliable narration” and get closer to unbiased fact.
Major: Media Studies Faculty Mentor: HyeRyoung Ok
Project Title: Using the Social Media Potential in Post-Impeachment Brazil: Youth Action in Fostering Participatory Politics through Digital Memes
Abstract: The purpose of this research is to understand the relationship between youth and civic media practices in fostering political participation in Brazil during and after the 2016 impeachment proceedings against Brazil’s first woman 25 president Dilma Rousseff. The ongoing political scandals in Brazil, which empowered youth to use social media as a vehicle to share internet memes, suggest significant changes in participatory politics in the country. Within this context, participatory politics can be defined as interactive, peer-based acts through which individuals and groups seek to exert both voice and influence on issues of public concern. Despite being one of the largest democracies in the world, Brazil still has a long way to go in terms of diversifying its media sources in order to allow impactful youth participation in the public opinion. However, the number of Brazilian youth on the internet continues to increase as Brazil becomes one of the most active countries on social media, despite the economic recession. This new culture of increased participation indicates the beginning of a remarkable political transition in Brazil’s democratic history because it directly challenges the country’s long-standing dominant media, television. This diversification suggests a new era of civic engagement that fuels discussions on social media and expands them into the public sphere. Therefore, this research will describe the various roles that social media and internet memes increasingly play in empowering youth in Brazil to engage in civic and political discussions within the context of the impeachment and participatory politics.
Major: Political Science Faculty Mentor: Mark Whalan
Project Title: Cinematic Adaptations of Modernist Texts: Formal Re-experimentation in the Mid-20th Century
Abstract: Film scholar Gilberto Perez argued that difficulties in cinematic adaptation emerge because modernist culture and literature emphasize an inherent tension in film, between its reflective nature (representation) and creative nature (imagination). This project looks at the 1967 adaptation of Ulysses, a 1969 adaptation of “The Reivers”, the 1971 adaptation of “Death in Venice” and a 1983 made-for-television adaptation of “To The Lighthouse”, focusing on what techniques were utilized by cinematic adapters to try to either accommodate the interiorization of narrative and experimentation with time in these works, or to restructure the basic plot or nature of the text in an effort to work around it. Looking at adaptations of a range of modernist writers (Joyce, Faulkner, Mann and Woolf), it is possible to identify an array of methods used in the filmmaking to replicate the elements of literary modernism which are often considered most difficult to portray on film. By studying efforts to bridge the exterior or voyeuristic aspects of film as a medium and the emphasized internal narrative complexity of Modernist novels, we can gain a better understanding of these mediums and these texts. Though this research examines direct correlations between text and film, the central focus is in new meanings and techniques which emerge in the transition from novel to feature film.
2016 HURF Recipients
Major: History Faculty Mentor: Trond Jacobsen
Project Title: Masculinist or Humanist? An Analysis of Rhetoric in College Debate
Abstract: The National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) tends to be male dominated and those who do not identify as men are a definitive minority. As a representative of the University of Oregon in collegiate debate, I have consistently observed a culture of masculinity. It is my perception that the most successful teams competitively are generally those who engage in debate in a masculine way by using aggressive techniques in their logic and language. I have researched feminist theories of argumentation and rhetoric and using these works, I have formulated ideas about what types of argumentation and rhetoric are gendered masculine. At the David Frank Tournament of Scholars in February 2016, I facilitated a focus group with debaters on the NPDA circuit to diversify my perspective of how masculinity presents itself in the debate space. My theoretical research coupled with the focus groups have allowed me to create a unique inventory of recognizable ways masculinity presents itself in rhetoric and argumentation. With this information, I have watched various debate rounds and recorded specific observations about performances of masculinity within them using ethnographic research methods. This project culminates in a specific analysis of how masculinity exists within this space and how it correlates to competitive success.
Major: History Faculty Mentor: Mark Carey
Project Title: The Enemy in the Forests: The Public Perception of Forest Fires in the Pacific Northwest 1933-1965
Awards Related to this Project:
2017 UO Libraries Undergraduate Research Award Winner
Abstract: Fire plays a vital role in the ecology of the Pacific Northwest. However, throughout most of the twentieth century, the National Forest Service promoted a strict policy of fire suppression that has disrupted the cyclical nature of fires and lead to the growth of “megafires” in the past few decades. For the most part, the National Forest Service and the timber industry both financially benefited from the suppression policies. While historians have discussed the relation between scientists, the timber and ranching industries, and the state, there has been little analysis of public perception as it relates to fire policy and the actors involved. Groups and campaigns like the Keep Oregon Green Association and Smokey Bear encompassed a broad range of representatives including environmentalists, politicians, private loggers, and scholars, developing quasi-state entities that emphasized the importance of timber capital and national security above all else. Using various sources such as records of the Keep Oregon Green Association, OSU Forestry School archives, and World War II propaganda posters, I argue that the wide range of organizers promoting a uniform conception of fire disallowed any other. Fire prevention campaigns and the extreme vilification of fire in the public eye were vital to developing the environmental narrative that ensured an unquestioned fire suppression policy for so long.
Major: Art History Faculty Mentor: Akiko Walley
Project Title: Not Just a Pretty Face: 19th c. Japanese Courtesans and their influence in art exportation
Abstract: 19th century Japan was a time of momentous changes. The Edo period ended shortly after the country was opened to the West. The Meiji period, beginning in 1868, shows a society grappling with many changes. By examining 19th century woodblock prints and souvenir photography, I will examine Japanese courtesans, their reinvention in the 1870s as geisha, and their influence over art exportation. I will argue that these women were far more than common prostitutes, by exploring their rigorous training, and indicating in what ways they used their minds and business acumen to further their careers. These women were linked with Europeans due to their relationships with Dutch traders since the 16th century; courtesans provided the buffer between foreigners and the native Japanese population. Due to these close associations, courtesans were able to influence Japanese art exportation, both through woodblock prints and later through souvenir photography. The complications of time period differences, and the difficulties in acquiring the necessary language skills (both Japanese and European languages are required), has created an unfortunate lack of scholarship on this vibrant time of change and cultural exchange between Japan and the West. It is my goal to shed more light on the changing dynamics of these tumultuous interactions, while bringing these marginalized women to the forefront, where there is evidence of their involvement with Westerners.
Major: Music History Faculty Mentor: Loren Kajikawa
Project Title: The People’s Music: Rhetoric and Musical Symbolism in the German Democratic Republic’s 1954 Musikfest des VDK
Abstract: After World War II, Germany had to be rebuilt. The artificial division of the country in 1949 made an already difficult task even more complicated. Although the Cold War period remains a dark memory for many, it also offers a glimpse into the process of constructing national and socialist cultural identity. The German Democratic Republic (GDR) began in earnest to promote a new societal consciousness in the 1950s, and redoubled their efforts after the 1953 Worker’s Uprising. In 1954, the GDR government and composers allied with the socialist cause began a new cultural campaign using musical events and the socialist-realist aesthetic to establish authority over the East German population. By promoting their own socialist aesthetic and combining it with German cultural traditions, they created a hybrid culture that co-opted patriotic prestige from German cultural icons while also promoting a revolutionary, anti-capitalist consciousness. To explore this campaign, I performed original research at state archives in Berlin and Leipzig. My primary sources were programs, internal documents, and musical works related to the Musikfest des VDK, a state-sponsored music festival held in Leipzig in 1954. The research has revealed that the Musikfest’s socialist-realist pieces heavily relied on rhetorical, extra-musical framing and cultural appropriation.
Major: English and Economics Faculty Mentor: Courtney Thorsson
Project Title: James Baldwin Across Literary Forms
Abstract: My research focuses on the work of 20th-century American author and activist James Baldwin. Fifty years after his career started, our country is still facing a deeply troubling racial divide, and we consistently turn to Baldwin’s words to reconcile this divide, rather than the words of his contemporaries. Broadly, I wanted to know why. Specifically, I posit that this lasting political utility and cultural relevance stems from Baldwin’s adaptability to the various literary forms he uses to address these complex ideas around race and identity. I highlight three forms throughout my project, and analyze the ways in which Baldwin adapts the same general arguments to each.
The first section, on Baldwin’s Another Country, argues that the novel’s central metaphor of indebtedness is crucial for understanding Baldwin’s enduring approach to racial hatred. In the second section, I read two films that Baldwin appears in as extensions of his written work, and explicate the ways that these public appearances reiterate the underlying political element of his writing. The final section is on non-fiction, and here I draw comparisons between The Fire Next Time and Ta-Nahisi Coates’ 2015 book Between the World and Me. The collective goal of these three sections is to illustrate Baldwin’s rhetorical versatility, account for his current political utility, and redirect his value back into the literary context in which it originated.
Major: Philosophy Faculty Mentor: Steven Brence
Project Title: Understanding the Violence of Colonial Relations: Depictions of the Algerian War in Contemporary
Abstract: In the past fifteen years, the Algerian War, long a taboo topic in France, has begun to receive attention in public discourse and mainstream media, including a number of recent films. In my work, I analyze five contemporary French films’ portrayals of the war, asking what these films say about the ways in which violence and oppressive colonial relations harm both the colonizers and the colonized. I engage critically with the theories of Albert Memmi, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus, and argue that these films simultaneously illustrate and complicate these philosophers’ theories of the colonizer as a perpetrator of violence. I argue that these films’ graphic portrayals of the degrading effects of extreme violence on colonizers and colonized alike challenge Franz Fanon’s theory of the essential, cathartic, and redeeming role of violence in revolutions. My research contributes to the slowly growing body of scholarly work on the Algerian War in a unique way, as I address these films philosophically and reveal how the war continues to inform French identity. Additionally, my research comes at a pivotal moment as France becomes increasingly involved in the growing conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa and is reminded of its colonial history. And finally, my research helps shed light on the effects of systematic oppression and violence on people in the world at large.