William and Mary

Abstracts for Wednesday, February 26


Mitch Caudill, Culture as Network Phenomena - Implications, Benefits, and Questions
Examining culture and cultural information as a network phenomena offers many potential opportunities and new insights for anthropologists. This thesis provides several new methodologies and theoretical perspectives that can generate new important research questions for the field by drawing on interdisciplinary work in other fields, including evolutionary psychology, biology, and mathematics.


Elizabeth Denny, Constructed Bodies, Perfected Romance: Performing Gender Onstage at Japan’s Takarazuka Revue
My honors thesis examines the Takarazuka Revue, a Japanese all-female theater troupe founded in 1914. Women play both male and female characters at Takarazuka, and the Revue’s intensely romantic musical narratives draw up to 2.5 million viewers per year, the vast majority of whom are married women. What about Takarazuka’s unique brand of theater makes it so compelling to its female fan base, and what can its continued popularity tell us about contemporary Japanese society? To answer these questions, I conduct a close analysis of the Revue’s dramatic productions, examining its onstage techniques for depicting the male and female genders and these depictions’ meaning to fans and performers. By doing so, I probe into the performative aspects of gender and into Takarazuka’s unique enactment of it, ultimately making a case for the theater’s continuing importance as a social space and fantasy outlet for contemporary Japanese women.

Annie Kehrli, The Foreigner of Venice
This study uses an 1873 Italian language operatic adaptation of The Merchant of Venice as a springboard and main primary source for an analytic examination of the role the theatre played in the formation and promotion of a new Italian identity in the wake of the Risorgimento. Part of this study is the identification of the implications of liberties taken in the translation of the piece and the treatment, omission and dialogue of and about various characters in this multicultural setting. This will be set next to the intercultural exchange between Italian and English cultures, the importance of opera as an art form in the Italian peninsula, and the role which theatre continued to play in developing the Italian identity into the twentieth century.


Crosby Enright, Memory and Contested History: Penitentiary Poetry of Franquismo
This thesis examines the penitentiary poetry of three Spanish poets, Miguel Hernández, Marcos Ana, and Ángeles García-Madrid, who were brutally imprisoned following Francisco Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). All three were active supporters of the democratic Republican cause, and throughout their imprisonment steadfastly maintained their social and political beliefs in spite of torture, hunger, and sickness. I analyze how their writings preserve and illuminate the repressed history of the losers of the war, by depicting the reality of life within the cells.  I further examine how recovering this history represents a way to honor the memory of the victims and achieve historical justice.

Olivia Sweet, “So that’s life then: things as they are?”: Painting and the Poetry of Wallace Stevens
Throughout his career, the American Modernist poet Wallace Stevens engaged painting as a metaphor and analog for his poetic process. For Stevens, both poet and painter create art through an effort of the mind as it interacts with the raw material of reality. The poet concerns himself with language, the painter with form and color, but the concern of rendering a reality that displays a dynamic relation between an imaginative inner world and the artist’s surroundings pertains to both. My project explores the poem "The Man with the Blue Guitar" as a pivotal composition in the development of Stevens' use of painting as it reflects painterly influences from both his early and late career and a varied array of movements from Impressionism to Surrealism.