Abstracts: Monday, February 13th


Katie Freund | Hispanic Studies
Creative Interventions in Latin America: Economic and Social Projects that Work
Advisor: Francie Cate-Arries
In recent years, artists, academics, and students alike have begun to question the value of the arts in the real world. As a student of the humanities, my thesis looks at four case studies to reexamine the potential for art as a catalyst of real-world change in economic, social, and political spheres. Using an interdisciplinary approach, I argue that creative initiatives are actually being supported by experts across many fields, and evaluate the criteria necessary for socially-engaged art to be successful. My work consists of an introduction followed by four case studies that form the bulk of my analysis. These case studies include: the Arpillera movement in Chile, the transformation of the city of Medellin, Colombia through the Medellin international poetry festival, Pedro Reyes' "Palas por Pistolas" (Guns to Shovels) project in Mexico, and the Gustu group and restaurant in La Paz, Bolivia.

Emmaleah Jones | Interdisciplinary Studies
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Reimagining Urban Space & Governance in Semarang, Indonesia
Advisor: Joseph L. Jones
This project analyzes the uses of space and geography at distinct levels of governance, from the village to the municipal, for sociopolitical development and health improvement in the city of Semarang, Indonesia. This project explores the strategies employed by the municipality to improve its governance, the actions incited by community stakeholders to improve their space, and the intersection of these two urbanizing forces framing the study of the kota (city), its people, and its function in terms of how they interact in the built environment. The spatial analysis of the city focuses on indices representing land risk, water risk, dengue fever outbreaks, and replicability. This paper suggests that if participatory, village-oriented strategies were further encouraged by the city, especially in neighborhoods with high environmental risk, corresponding policy efforts to improve urban resilience will be more efficient and effective.


Zarine Kharazian | French & Francophone Studies
Yet another "exception culturelle?": France's Approach to Digital Eternity and the Online Right to Be Forgotten
Advisor: Maryse Fauvel; Michael Leruth
In 2015, the European Court of Justice established an online right to be forgotten in Europe. Under this right to be forgotten, individuals may request that search engines delist links that reference their personal information from search results. Search engines need not grant these requests, but they are now obligated to review them. While the Court's decision to establish the right to be forgotten certainly ignited a debate among Western privacy scholars and policymakers hailing from both sides of the Atlantic, no country has participated in the debate with as much fervor as has France. This thesis addresses the following questions: What explains France's unique sense of urgency with regard to the problem of digital eternity? And why does France regard a digital right to be forgotten as the decisive solution to this problem? I argue that the rift between France and its Western counterparts on the right to be forgotten originates not along the legal fault line of Western privacy jurisprudence, as most scholars have suggested, but along political and cultural fault lines: namely, long-established societal "mentalits" with regard to the modern state's responsibility to shield individuals' honor and reputation from excessive public scrutiny, the development of the French state's content-based speech regulatory apparatus, and France's enduring antagonism towards US digital hegemony.

Morgan Sehdev | Modern Languages and Literature: Hispanic Studies
En Busca de la Alfabetizacin: Literacy Movements of the 20th century and the Impacts Left Behind
Advisor: Jonathan Arries
As a country transitions from developing to developed, many look to key demographic features in order to merit support, legitimacy, and verification of such a change in national status. These features include: infant mortality rates, per capita income levels, and literacy rates. Over the past century, Spanish speaking countries have developed and implemented some of the most momentous literacy campaigns ever seen in the hopes of achieving this highly sought after national status. Three such movements have been the Pedagogical Missions of Spain (1931-1935), the Cuban Literacy Campaign (1961), and the Sandinista Literacy Crusades of Nicaragua (1980s). Through a comparative study of these three literacy movements alongside of an exploration of two emergent literacy initiatives, the popular education program People and Stories and health literacy campaigns, I aim to investigate the following questions: What are the shared qualities between each movement? What factors contribute to the success or failure of each? How exactly do we conceive the idea of literacy and why does it hold so much value? By answering these questions, it is my goal to understand the context of literacy in national success and the keys to developing a movement that yields the desired results.


Kaitlin Dorst | Applied Science/Biology
The Role of TRP Ion Channels in Inspiratory Burst Generation
Advisor: Christopher Del Negro
Breathing is a vital behavior. We aim to understand the neural origins of this behavior at the network, cellular, and molecular levels. The network and cell type that generate this behavior are known. What remains a mystery is the molecular component that leads to this behavior. In this study, we aim to determine the ion channel that generates the current in the neurons that create the bursting pattern associated with this behavior. Previous evidence has favored TRPM4 to be the candidate ion channel. However, experimental results suggest that TRPM4 may not be the only ion channel that can generate this current. Results from RNA-seq, immunohistochemical and electrophysiological experiments in vitro indicate additional importance of TRPC3 ion channels in burst generation. These two ion channels may work in conjunction, but additional in vitro and in vivo experiments need to be done in order to confirm our hypothesis.    

Caroline Martin | Biology
The Structure and Molecular Markers of Neurons Responsible for Breathing Rhythm
Advisor: Christopher Del Negro
The rhythm of breathing is variable, yet ever-present. This is the product of a network of neurons in the brain stem that behave as an oscillator to modulate and maintain an inspiratory rate appropriate to physiological demand. A subclass of cells in the mammalian medulla that express the transcription factor Dbx1 during embryonic development are the primary driver of inspiratory rhythm, but this group is heterogeneous, exhibiting physiological and anatomical diversity. In my thesis investigation, I work to elucidate differences in structure and gene expression among this population so that we may identify the discrete components of the mammalian breathing circuit. So far, I have characterized the one cell type, protoplasmic astrocytes, using immunohistochemistry and hydrogel-based tissue clearing methods. After acquiring the transcriptional profile of Dbx1-derived neurons using RNA-sequencing, I am now working to sequence the transcriptome of rhythmic Dbx1-derived cells that exhibit different physiological properties.


Emily Armstrong | English
Heart, Horror, and the Heath: Female Sexuality and Hardyan Landscapes
Advisor: Deborah Morse
Thomas Hardy's Wessex sets a stage for tragedy as an ultimate end to the struggles of individuals caught in social conflict at the end of the Nineteenth century. Women in Hardy's rural landscapes are caught in class and romantic struggle, for the most part leading to tragic ends. The natural world looms over these struggles, grounded in the lives and romantic endeavors of its tenants. As the natural way of human life is obfuscated by the laws, manners, and mores of urban society, Hardy creates the natural world as a figure that observes and interacts with humanity's confusion; in the attempt to depart from natural roots, and the hesitant transition towards urban influence, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), Return of the Native (1878), The Woodlanders (1887), and Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891) explore the role of the natural world in its relation to and effect upon female sexuality. 

Cameron MenchelEnglish
The Violent Novel of Manners: Emily Bronte and The Invention of a Genre 
Advisors: Deborah Morse

At the outset of the Victorian Era, a young poet from the North of England composed a provocative and lapidary work of fiction, outfitted with the tempestuousness hinted at in its title. This poet was Emily Bronte; her 1847 masterpiece Wuthering Heights, the only novel she wrote before her death in 1848, is an atmospheric recalibration of ethnic, gender, and social identities in a remote corner of Yorkshire, as well as an extended meditation on unchecked passions. My thesis will consider how the book is a revolutionary recasting of the novel of manners, when the genre was nascent and hitherto largely a literary commodity of the South of England. 


Hunter Gentry | Philosophy
A Defense of Perceptual Dogmatism
Advisor: Chris Tucker
What does having good reason to believe a particular perceptual belief consist in? Suppose I see a cardinal in front of me. What makes it true that I have good reason to believe that there is a cardinal there? Perceptual dogmatism offers a good response to these questions, but has recently come under attack in at least three different ways: (1) the subject's perspective objection, (2) the problem of easy justification and (3) cognitive penetration. This thesis tries to defend perceptual dogmatism from these three objections. 

Ashley Richardson | American Studies
"A Very Strong Record of Diversity": Fandom, Identity, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Advisor: Charles McGovern
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently one of the most commercially successful entertainment brands in American popular culture, with a range of film franchises and television series under its banner. Although the brand maintains its popularity with various demographics, the casting choices in films like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Doctor Strange as well as the Iron Fist television series generated controversy amongst fans and critics alike for excluding people of color or reducing them to villains and sidekicks. This thesis examines the online commentary surrounding the casting, acting, and marketing of these productions to evaluate how social media users on Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter come to understand race and gender through the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and shows.