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.