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2013 Honors Research Conference


This year, the SOAN department was well represented at the annual honors conference.  Five students of sociology and anthropology, Kenneth Artigues, Anna Church, Katherine Kay, Katherine Smith, and Frances Tubb, presented their papers at the 2013 Honors Research Conference.Kenny, Anna, and Kate Kay completed honors projects in anthropology, while Kate Smith and Frances (both SOAN majors) completed projects in French and Spanish respectively.

The department happily congratulates Kenny, who was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa award for Excellence in Honors Research.  This is the second time in the last three years that an anthropology project has received the award.

Kenny’s project, "Stolz auf Wien: Identity and Agency in an Austrian Middle School,” is an ethnographic project that explores the formation and enactment of identity among first generation Austrian middle school students. Using research conducted while serving as a volunteer teacher of English, the project seeks to understand how daily, commonplace interactions between students and teachers reflect the position of these youth within the community, the Austrian school system, and Austrian society as a whole. Further, the research paper highlights the ways in which the speech and behavior of these students is both subject to and sometimes in defiance of unwritten codes of expected conduct. These codes, or “scripts,” represent both the larger systems which exert influence on the students as well as their ability to assert agency in defining themselves against or in cooperation with these systems.

In “The Alchemy of Archaeology: Transforming Late Classic Maya Pottery Through Starch Residue Analysis,” Anna Church researched Maya diet and lifestyle. She travelled to the Yucatan with Dr. George Bey III, where she collected potsherds. She conducted starch residue analysis on the sherts to measure levels of starch. Anna used these results to analyze how starch consumption reflected parts of Maya life 

Kate Kay’s project, “Identity, Ideology, and Awareness: An Analysis of Gender in Sweden,” examines the dynamics of gender as they relate to the government-mandated policies advocating for gender equality through ethnographic research in Uppsala, Sweden. Sweden has the fourth smallest gender gap in the world, according to the Global Gender Gap Report of 2011, meaning that relatively high levels of gender equality can be observed in terms of education, health, economics, and politics. In order to gain more understanding as to why this is and to see if gender equality is visible at all, Kate spent six weeks in Uppsala doing participant observation and informal interviews of college-aged men and women. While women continue to gain access to typically male-dominated areas such as politics and education, Kate found the way in which masculinity is also evolving to include more domestic roles to be the most interesting. Sweden still has a long way to go, but cultural ideologies having to do with moderation, national unity, and general equality make up a strong foundation on which gender equality is being built.

For her project, “From 'Pucelle' and 'Belle Dame Sans Merci' to 'Bien Mariée,' Redefining Gender Roles in Marital Relationships in Chrétien de Troyes' Erec et Enide and Le Chevalier au Lion,” Kate Smith did both literary and linguistic analysis in which she compared gender roles of the male and female protagonists. She found that, very often, certain virtues which are gendered masculine are given to female characters and those gendered feminine are given to male characters. The female characters inspire the prouesse  (prowess) of the knights and cause them to balance their duties as a husband and knight.  Chrétien de Troyes' ideology concerning courtly love literature and marriage was very unorthodox in comparison to the typical poetry written by Troubadours of fin amour.  In the anthropological sense, Chrétien in a way proves that gender roles, even during the medieval era, are a social construction created by nobility and structured by courtly love literature.  

Frances Tubb’s project, “The Marginality of Moorish Characters and Culture in Don Quijote de la Mancha and Four Cinematic Adaptations,” examines the marginal Moorish characters and their significance in the novel and in four cinematic adaptations. These characters were marginal due to their place in the social hierarchy of the time, but they are critical to the social critique present in the novel. Frances researched the history of the Moors in Spain and read Don Quijote in Spanish. She researched four characters individually, and she also researched the movies (characters, directors, time periods). Frances watched several different types of movies (5 hr. humanities society films, children's movies and cartoon series, documentaries, Spanish films, and American films). She selected four films to analyze and discuss in her thesis. While watching these films, Frances looked for the four Moorish characters, Moorish clothing, music, and architecture. She then analyzed what the inclusion or exclusion of these characters and/or cultural themes could mean.