2010 Abstracts

February 18, 2010 Student Scholarship Symposium

Wearable Justice?: Selling Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century
By Nick Derda, Sophomore, College of Arts and Sciences

Today, issues of social and political justice have become increasingly trendy and perhaps more disturbingly, commercial. While clothing and other products that tell consumers to “Go Green,” to take a “Stand Against Female Genital Mutilation, or to “Stop Genocide and Save Darfur” are well intentioned and may indeed help social causes, we have to ask ourselves what type of justice these advertising campaigns are promoting. Is a wearable act of charity, such as a t-shirt that supports “HIV/AIDS education and prevention efforts,” a just act or rather a public billboard advertising one’s benevolence?

Using Plato’s The Republic as lens through which to analyze the Fashion Against AIDS! advertising campaign distributed by the international clothing retailer H&M, I intend to show how today’s advertisers are turning social justice into a good that is no longer valued in and of itself, but rather for the material and social benefits one reaps from maintaining a just appearance. This Platonic account of justice will serve as a model for what altruistic justice should truly look like, which can help us to escape from the “cave” of untruth created by modern advertisers. While the manipulative nature of advertising is itself troubling, this misrepresentation seems all the more problematic when it concerns the high stakes issue of social justice, an issue that can literally mean the difference between life and death as in the case of HIV/AIDS.

The Song of Lincoln: Walt Whitman’s Memory of Abraham Lincoln as a Soldier Martyr
By Laura Ehlen, Senior, College of Arts and Sciences

In American history, the collective memory rarely becomes separated from the current historical understanding of the event or person. Just as different regions, groups, and historians understand the American Civil War differently, dissimilar perspectives on Abraham Lincoln, one of the greater historical figures of the Civil War, have emerged throughout the decades. Walt Whitman, the “Great American Poet” who greatly admired the President and strongly lamented his death, provides poetic insight to the memory of Lincoln after his assassination. Walt Whitman’s post-Civil War poetry, particularly “When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d” and “O Captain, My Captain” significantly affected the American memory of President Abraham Lincoln. These poems, rich with symbolism, create an image of Abraham Lincoln as both a soldier, in the sense that Lincoln was one among many to sacrifice his life for his nation, and a martyr, as one whose death was necessary to his life for nation’s triumph. This paper examine how, to Whitman, Lincoln was simultaneously the great redeemer of the Union and the common soldier fighting for a great cause. Through the immense popularity of Whitman’s poetry, this dual image of Abraham Lincoln became part of the national memory.


October 2010

Redeeming the Underground Man: Writing as a Vehicle of Redemption in Dostoevsky's "Notes from Underground"
Ciara Reyes

“I am reborn in a new form. I will be reborn for the better.” Thus, began Dostoevsky's address to his brother Mikhail, following the author's near death experience at a Siberian labor camp. On the eve of 1849, Dostoevsky was condemned to death by firing squad for his involvement in the Petrashevsky Circle, a literary discussion group mistaken by the Russian government for a revolutionary organization; however, he received an imperial pardon and his execution was “unconsummated.” Interestingly, while his execution was “unconsummated,” many of his Post-Siberian exile writings show signs of a “consummated” religious conversion, particularly, Notes from Underground where ideas of rebirth and redemption are pervading themes. This paper examines these themes at length arguing that the Underground Man is redeemed and experiences a moment of “consummated” conversion; however, the vehicle through which he is converted is not a firing squad this time, but rather an unexpected one: writing. Writing emerges as a means to redemption, freeing the Underground Man from his complex neuroses--particularly, his struggle against determinism and free-will.


The Changing of Chinese Medicine: Interlacing TCM with Western Politics
Krista Schaefer

As China has begun to open up to the rest of the world, after its isolation during the Cultural Revolution, many rapid changes in Chinese culture have occurred. For instance, traditional Chinese architecture that is noted for its intricacy and vivid color has been given up for blocks of identical cement apartment buildings and an endless view of skyscrapers. The practice of medicine has also undergone dramatic changes in a complicated and, at times, contradictory process of reversion and progression. Through my internship in a hospital in China, I learned firsthand about the medical practices at a modern hospital in Hangzhou, China, and how China is continuing to practice traditional Chinese medicine while proceeding with the Western advances in practices and equipment. This paper explains how the modern medical practices in China arose because of central government planning initiatives, and how these initiatives created a complex system that intertwines Western practices and traditional Chinese medicine.