The following list includes abstracts describing each presentation from the 2017 English Symposium.
“The Dark Arts...are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal. Fighting them is like fighting a many- headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before. You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible" (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 177). This definition of the Dark Arts was given by Severus Snape during a class Harry attended at Hogwarts. Snape’s explanation illustrates a parallel to how many would define the ferocity of an addiction. From the very beginning of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling attempts to tackle addiction at its core through the use of dark magic. Through various different characters and scenarios dealing with the Dark Arts, Rowling delicately explores where addiction comes from, what it looks like, and eventually how to fight it.
Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, and Severus Snape show all readers how to recognize and fight addiction. If a reader one-day faces addiction, he or she can remember how Voldemort served as a personification of addiction and how Dumbledore served as an agent of recovery. They can remember Ginny and the diary, Harry’s battle with addiction, Draco’s inner war to break free, and Snape’s success in fighting addiction love. Through Rowling’s story, readers can understand addiction in a way that they’d never be able to otherwise.
Lloyd Alexander once said, “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it” (Interview with David Savatteri). When we take a look deeper into what Rowling was actually trying to tell, we find that her series isn’t just about magic. Readers come to understand how addiction can seduce and affect people in many different ways. Harry Potter then becomes a lesson about human relationships and helping children grasp concepts they otherwise might not understand until it is too late.
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling teaches that obesity is inherently wrong and synonymous with insufficient character. If the obese people in Rowling’s magical stories are not evil, they are at least laughably stupid. They also have a problem with physical activities, either being slothful or inept. Obesity is also seen as an irredeemable trait of characters, and nothing is done within the world of the novel to discourage people from becoming obese. All of the traits she associates with obesity (evilness, physical ineptitude, stupidity, and inability to be redeemed) are all intertwined, creating a heavy, smothering, didactic message. Because the negative characteristics in obese characters are intertwined, this essay is organized by obese characters first. Second, slim characters are explored in contrast. These characters, who are portrayed as intelligent and active, always possess a manageable body weight. Their positive characteristics, intelligence, industry, and even likability are all intertwined. The significance of Rowling’s reputation as primarily an author who caters to young adults and children calls for her didactic statements to be scrutinized that much more. As literary critic Anatol Gizelle puts it, “it is exactly because the series has become so widely popular that it is both critically significant and should be taken quite seriously” (xiv). A story, to the young mind, “can be ‘soaked up into the bloodstream’” (xiv). It can seriously influence the way an individual thinks for the rest of his or her life; therefore, the stereotypes in Harry Potter can both reinforce weightism in an individual who already is fostering the prejudice, and it can plant a new seed entirely.
Fantasy literature is often criticized for having poor female representation either because novels have few female characters, or if the novels do have female characters, they have stereotypical feminine roles. In this paper I argue that both C.S. Lewis with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Philip Pullman with The Golden Compass limit their female representation as they contextualize female characters on a spectrum of motherhood, imposing maternal traits or non-maternal dispositions on every girl and woman. Lewis showcases many absent mothers, surrogates, mothers-in-training, and anti-mothers; in contrast, Pullman primarily represents actual mothers. Both authors demonize nonmaternal women. This pattern continues to restrict female representation because even though both authors have a wide range of female characters, they pigeonhole women into maternal contexts, underrepresenting diverse feminine experiences.
I argue that etymological sub-creation is an essential attribute of fantasy literature. The fantasy author’s aim is to make the unreal real to the reader. That aim is accomplished through etymological sub-creation. My presentation will explore many of the examples of etymological sub-creation in J.R.R. Tolkien’s work The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Additionally, I will make use of Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories” to establish a working criterion of sub-creation. Next, I will examine current fantasy and demonstrate its use of etymological sub-creation. The contemporary fantasy I will explore is: J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series and Nalo Hopkinson’s Sister Mine. I argue that the creation of words and language is essential to the fantasy genre.
This paper argues that Sarah Scott’s utopian novel Millennium Hall (1762) preemptively tackles misperceptions of women within bluestocking circles, which were founded to promote female education. While Scott’s novel displays an awareness of potential misperceptions of bluestocking women, it was not effective in correcting them. Many men in the 18th century viewed educated women with suspicion, and bluestocking women were satirized and ridiculed. These views prevailed, and the term “bluestocking” has evolved into a derogatory term. In the current political discourse of the United States, “bluestocking” can be used to discredit women like Hillary Clinton, an intellectual woman seeking public office, or Samantha Bee, a witty late-night host, because the term carries connotations of a radical kind of feminism whose adherents seek to impose their worldview on others. The irony is that Sarah Scott and many other original bluestocking women were anything but radical. Scott’s utopia consists of a society of women who, instead of trying to change the world, seek only to maintain their own sphere of influence. They want to reform themselves, not society. Scott’s preemptive response to negative perceptions of bluestocking women in Millennium Hall is evident in the dialogues between the young rake Lamont and the women living at the hall. Lamont is incredulous at the women’s lifestyle, and his questions give the women an opportunity to respond to his misperceptions. By the end of the book, Lamont has been won over by the arguments and lifestyle of the women, and he reforms and converts to Christianity. The rest of the world, however, continued to satirize intellectual women throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and caricatures of bluestockings became popular. Today we have inherited this tradition of using the term “bluestocking” as an insult, completely disconnected from the history and motivations of the bluestocking women themselves.
My essay discusses the theme of inherent meaninglessness in the collections of stories, Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis, and Tenth of December by George Saunders. In his story, “Tenth of December,” Saunders refers to Robin’s freezing body as “meat on a frame” (238), which is a line that could be applied to most of Saunders’s characters. They struggle with self-control or being controlled by outside influences. We can interpret and expand the body’s description by using Davis’s writing as an analytical lens. In her story, “Cows,” Davis lists her observations of a herd of cows outside her window. She often humanizes these cows by projecting her own interpretations of their lives onto them, which in turn makes them “more complicated” (129). Both authors demonstrate the natural, human desire to complicate what we see and experience by resorting to this theme of inherent meaninglessness; if we are all “meat on a frame,” then the influences around us control how we think and act.
In 1962, St. Lucian poet Derek Walcott writes one of his earliest notable works, "A Far Cry From Africa." This poem depicts the conflict and confusion that stems from being a Caribbean man of mixed race. Walcott frequently asks himself within his poetry which side of his heritage he should assimilate, how fully, and how often. Walcott poses a poignant question in "A Far Cry From Africa” that follows him throughout his entire career: "How choose / Between this Africa and the English tongue I love? / Betray them both, or give back what they give?" (29-31). In the 2000s, after Walcott has meditated for several decades on identity, he appears more complacent in poetry and interviews alike. It is worth considering how Walcott achieves complacency after decades of revisiting identity as a theme in his work. To answer this question, I examined a Walcott poem published somewhere in the middle of these two points. "The Schooner Flight" is a fictional autobiography where Walcott sends his narrator, Shabine, on a literal and figurative search for answers. Walcott uses Shabine as a way to examine and write about his own life. Shabine compensates for the lack of control in his life by controlling the Flight, tightening the lines of the rigging much like how Walcott himself commands tight control of his language. When Shabine begins to relinquish control, he starts to make peace with his own ancestry. Walcott similarly comes to terms with his own identity by reframing the way he poses his question. Although Walcott doesn’t find answers in the way he initially desires, “The Schooner Flight” signifies a turning point in his career where he begins relinquish control.
Jane Austen is often associated today with her era’s attitude towards marriage, but how did her views of the subject compare to those of her contemporaries? This paper considers the novel Pride and Prejudice, specifically as it addresses the question of how virtue (as premarital virginity, according to Oxford English Dictionary) and intelligence in women contribute to the quality of marriage. This paper also addresses the importance of virtue in young women, according to the sentimental movement. This movement was a period of time where people were highly focused on human emotions, resulting in a focus of pleasure over pain. With this focus came the rise of a moral code to protect the virtue of young women, which was heavily encouraged through literature. This paper incorporates archival materials from Eighteenth Century Collections Online, specifically The Female Garland, or the Virgin’s Monitor, and the archive’s explanation of the sentimental movement. This adds to Austen’s opinion as it shows where she fits into the feelings of her time, as well as where she differed. This analysis suggests that Austen argues intelligence is more important than virtue, when forming a happy and fulfilling union. However, she does agree with others that virtue cannot be absent in a young woman if she wants the best marriage life can offer. This paper explores her argument through the different marriages presented in her novel, which are explored in detail. This paper claims that Austen believes virtue and intelligence are both necessary to create a happy marriage, which she represents through Elizabeth’s marriage to Mr. Darcy, showing that intelligence is more important than virtue, but cannot substitute for it.
The purpose of my research is to rhetorically analyze the 1994 People of the State of California v. O.J. Simpson court case. Dubbed as “The Trial of the Century,” this case is still discussed today. Dramatized in the FX television series American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson and chronicled in the ESPN documentary O.J.: Made in America, we find that there is a cultural fascination that lingers around the O.J. Simpson case. However, the only thing about the case that seems to not be in the topic of discussion is the actual results of the case. The results are often skipped over, explained away that because of his celebrity, as well as his skin color and the troubling racial tension in Los Angeles happening in the area at the time explain why O.J. Simpson was declared not guilty. My central research question is to examine the actual rhetorical strategies used by the defense of Mr. Simpson and how those helped the jury to reach the verdict, as well. While it would be naive to suggest that race and the political climate at the time did not play a major role in the court’s decision, the defense of Simpson was carefully constructed around rhetorical strategies that scholars of rhetoric have discussed for thousands of years, such as the notion of presence, a term brought to light in the twentieth century by Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca which emerged out of an examination of Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Presence involves an orator using words or figurative images to make absent objects “present”, which is certainly a strategy utilized by Simpson’s defense team. A common view is held that this trial is a fluke, a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon that happened only because Simpson was in the right place at the right time. My research will show, however, that this defense was orchestrated, and the jury’s verdict was a result, in particular, of Johnnie Cochran’s ability to use rhetorical strategies to a very powerful effect.
The purpose of my research is to examine the names of social and political movements. For my research methodology, I will be using Kenneth Burke's theory of identification to analyze the development and evolution of names of movements, such as the civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter; the gender equality movement, HeforShe; and the trends in the latest presidential campaign like #NastyWoman, #Deplorables, and #MAGA (#MakeAmericaGreatAgain). Burke offers identification as the key term of rhetoric and says that “the basic function of rhetoric [is] the use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to induce actions in other human agents.” Therefore identification or naming not only serves the purpose of helping us discuss our environment, but naming also controls the tones, perceptions, and expectations surrounding the subject matter as well. How we name things dictates our experience of the thing and our interactions with each other.
Burke’s theory of identification sees those participating in movements as seeking connection; they want to be considered equals. However, as Burke notes, "Identification is [also] rooted in division.” Thus, when social movements create a name or slogan to be #hashtagged or shouted in the streets, they also separate themselves from those who don’t identify with their protest. So how can these movements bring people closer together when they also immediately create an "us" and "them" situation? Sometimes the names chosen attract many people and other names can create resistance in people’s minds, even if they agree with the movement’s broader goals. Burke’s rhetorical theory can help us understand what reactions people have to these names and by extension whether the movement rallies people to their cause or drives them away.
While most writers of technical and scientific documents traditionally use passive voice in order to remain objective and professional, awareness of the potential dangers of passivity in these documents is advisable. For this presentation, I will probe the ethical implications of using passive voice in technical documents. The larger purpose of my research is to evaluate how a technical document’s language and voice can implicate its ethical soundness. Rhetorical exploration will often help a reader expose unethical behavior, determine culpability, accountability, and clarification of intent. Analysis can also expose subtle, yet significant ramifications within text. I will explain how analysis on the textual level is beneficial for both author and reader, then briefly examine extreme examples of technical and scientific documentation including pre-WWII texts about eugenic sterilization (Popenoe), a technical recommendation report for gas chamber vehicles during the Holocaust (Katz), medical records from the experimentation of “retarded” children at Willowbrook School (Robinson), and records of black patients who were unknowingly the victims of medical experimentation at Tuskagee (Brandt). In each of these, I will indicate instances of unethical passivity which eschews accountability and obscures truth. Next, I will demonstrate how passive voice is effectively analyzed through the lenses of Burke’s dramatism, which is a rhetorical model that examines the pentad of motive (act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose), as well as his theory of act-scene ratio, which explores motive based on the contextualization of specific rhetorical situations. I will conclude by discussing the role of technical communicators in colloquial efforts, then provide recommendations about how they can become more ethical in their work.
For this presentation, I ask what a piece of literature written in Ancient Greece can reveal about contemporary opinions on women and rhetoric. Specifically, I will be applying a modern feminist rhetorical analysis to Gorgias’ Encomium of Helen, an entertainment form of media, in order to investigate how these beliefs have influenced our society today. Helen of Troy is best known in Greek mythology as the most beautiful woman in the world. Said to be the daughter of Zeus, Helen was married to King Menelaus and was the queen of Laconia, a region in Greece as written by authors such as Homer. In the myth, she leaves Greece with Paris, a prince from Troy, and is considered the cause of the Trojan war. Whether Helen left with Paris because she was kidnapped or in love is a source of debate between versions of the myth, but all blame the war on Helen. Gorgias, an ancient Greek sophist, wrote a performative speech titled the Encomium of Helen, or the Praise of Helen, in which he seeks to defend Helen’s actions and remove her of any blame for leaving Greece for Troy. By arguing Helen’s actions as the result of godly intervention, physical force, divine love, or persuasive speech, Gorgias removes blame from Helen as well as dismisses her own choices. I will be looking at the Encomium of Helen from a feminist perspective. Specifically, I will use bell hooks’ rhetorical theories including oppression and the “Ideology of Domination” to reread this classic text. The larger purpose of my research is to understand how a feminist analysis of Ancient Greek texts can not only give us fresh perspectives for interpreting such texts but can also help us better understand how such texts have influenced society's views on women and rhetoric today.
GOMI, which stands for Get Off My Internets, is a website where members express their frustrations and annoyances with particular blogs and bloggers, often in a sarcastic or snarky way. Through discussion forums, GOMI attempts to open up a dialogue to the blog followers. The voice on the public forums is negative and rude, and this challenging and negative tone is a norm of the community, and is expected from those who post. On the flip side, there is a private section for members only where the discussion boards are friendly and supportive. This website challenges the regular way of communicating—where usually a person would want their public voice to be a friendly and inviting one. Dialogue doesn’t exist in the public sphere for this website unless the comment is negative, however, the private sphere accepts any comment and the members build off each other in a positive way. This paper serves as both an overview of the community itself, and also analyzes the difference between the public and private voice. It will look into both the emic and etic perspectives—first by looking at the public forums objectively, and second, by logging in and looking at the site as an accepted member.
For this project, I will be crafting a braided essay that explores the ways writing allows for the creation and destruction of shelters. The word shelter comes from the word shield, something a soldier takes up for protection. In many ways, writing can serve as a kind of shield, protecting our rights, our privacy, even our nation. But the shelters created by writing can also be used for denial, hiding, and places to escape. I want to explore this paradox by examining “the closet” as a kind of shelter, and the ways that my own writing has allowed me to step out of that shelter. Simultaneously, I will consider Alexander Hamilton, focusing on the ways that his writing built shelters (The Federalist Papers sheltering the Constitution) and the ways his writing destroyed shelters (The impact “The Reynold’s Pamphlet” had on his family). In placing these two strands side by side, I want to emphasize how writing is both a public and private act as well as how writing as a shelter is both necessary and temporary.
This project involves researching representations of evil women in fantasy literature since 1940 to see how and/or if representations of evil women have changed. By evil, I mean morally corrupt or wrong. My purpose in conducting this study is to analyze the representations of evil women in fantasy literature to reveal what characteristics an evil woman in fantasy literature possesses that make her evil. My desire to study evil women in fantasy literature arose from analyzing the similarities among the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, and Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. Analyzing these three women revealed that, even though they differ, they have distinct similarities that make them evil. This sparked my desire to see if representations of evil women in fantasy literature have changed through the past century or if they have stayed the same. The books to be subjected to analysis include Mistress Masham’s Repose by T.H. White, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The Castle of Llyr by Lloyd Alexander, Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, Matilda by Roald Dahl, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling, and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. The characteristics of evil women was quantified and charted with a publication timeline to reveals trends. My poster will include a discussion of research methods, a review of literature, findings, and suggestions for future research.
Lee M. Johnson
According to Capitalism: A Very Short Introduction, the definition of capitalism is “essentially the investment of money in the expectation of making a profit.” If we take a walk down Diagon Alley, we see many stores selling their wizarding products. Consumerism is at its finest when students at Hogwarts are allowed to go to Hogsmeade on the weekend, which is basically the equivalent of a mall. This is constantly one of the things the students forward to the most, and a big part of that is spending their money. It’s easy to see that this wizarding world is capitalistic. Rowling has unresolved issues with her monetary system, the most important of which are the treatment of the Weasleys, the Malfoys’ assets, the unknown tuition of Hogwarts, how house elves are essentially willing slaves, the role of monopolies, and what denominations are worth. These discrepancies expose what Rowling was and wasn’t willing to consider when creating her capitalistic society, which feels unquestioned by everyone in the novels.
Nichelle Pomeroy, Amanda Cook, Bethany Griffiths, Selina Ramsey
Our research attempts to determine how effective Utah State University's Museum of Anthropology's social media presence is at reaching and attracting USU student patrons. This study seeks to define social media strategies that will increase USU students' awareness of the USU Museum of Anthropology and its services. Many museums and similar organizations have difficulty increasing the number of patrons they receive. This is especially important for organizations that do not charge for admission, as proof of public appeal is necessary to receive funding. In order to increase patron traffic, local museums spread awareness by sharing information on social media accounts, such as Facebook, as well as through their own websites. We seek to better understand the effectiveness of social media platforms in increasing traffic and awareness of these programs. Our research methods include: Literature Review: The literature review looks at the practices of museums internationally and their use of social media in marketing, answering the question, “What are the best online and social media marketing practices for museums to increase visitation and involvement of patrons ages 18-35?” Survey: Through the survey we intend to answer the following. “Is social media an effective tool for spreading information about the USU Anthropology Museum, and is this correlated with in-museum patron traffic?”. The survey will be distributed to USU students to effectively assess this Think-Aloud Protocol: Through think-aloud usability tests, we will seek to answer the following. “How do Utah State University students use social media platforms to learn about the USU Anthropology Museum and the events it hosts?” We will have volunteers walk us through their process of finding upcoming museum events. Interview: In the interviews, we intend to answer the following: “How does the social media presence of museum institutions influence the attitudes and awareness of their audiences?” and “What means would encourage students to visit the Museum of Anthropology?"
The following list includes abstracts describing each presentation from the 2013 English Symposium. You may also download the presenters' intitial research papers through the corresponding PDF link.
This analysis of Neoclassical and Romantic theories in 19th-century British writing examines Charles Dickens' Hard Times and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Both authors critique the Neoclassical philosophy of education which stifles the creativity of children by discouraging the use of fancy and wonder. Through their main characters, Dickens and Carroll emphasize that it is only through the rejection of Neoclassical principles that children fully embrace their individual worthiness as intellectuals.
From their beginning in the mid-1800s, zoos (or zoological gardens as they were first known) were meant for both research and education. The history of zoos demonstrates a conflicting desire between our human need to connect with animals as well as our fear (literal and metaphoric) of what that connection might mean. Informing this creative project are three main areas of research: primary research in the form of interview, place-based research, and literature specifically about zoos (including the history of the modern zoo). This research incorporates a thirty-page creative non-fiction essay in the discussion of human connection to animals.
A surprisingly large number of undergraduate students may agree that "writing is too hard," but what is it about writing that inspires so much terror and negativity from undergraduate students? This problem stems from too many distractions and a lack of writing self-regulation. If writing self-regulation were taught in introductory writing classes, students would be less likely to shy away from writing assignments, and students would learn how to be effective communicators, with or without a degree in English.
Utah State University’s Digital Commons is a dynamic digital archive which allows for the storage and dissemination of student and faculty research; however, students don’t seem to be taking full advantage of this resource. This assessment of archival participation at USU proposes that undergraduate students either do not realize that a system like the Digital Commons exists or do not believe that their work is appropriate for submission.
This collaborative research article provides recommendations for technical writers collaborating on design documents, and asks a few critical questions for collaborative design work: How can technical writers prepare themselves for these unfamiliar and potentially uncomfortable situations? How can groups maximize effectiveness in order to produce the most visually effective documents? And what is a technical writer's role on a design team?
What first comes to mind when you hear the word smoothie? As smoothies have become an increasingly popular drink, their companies have used advertising to create a "healthful" image. Other researchers, counting calories and sugar content, have conducted nutritional analysis on smoothies that present a different view. This textual analysis demonstrates how different rhetorical devices are used to give the appearance of healthy eating despite the fact that this product is not necessarily "healthier" than other food choices.
This research project evaluates the use of gender-neutral language at USU, and the extent to which alternatives to gendered language are effectively used, specifically in course syllabi. Lovett examined a variety of course syllabi from different departments and conducted a textual analysis, evaluating the presence of gendered language in referring to students and the effective, consistent use of gender-neutral alternatives.
In the novel The Algerine Captive, children are shown to have a detrimental excess of power that created imbalances and was destructive to their own upbringing. This project analyzes the time in which The Algerine Captive was set, when the elite class highly prioritized passing their European ideals down to their children. This essay also examines the views of Royall Tyler, author of The Algerine Captive, who disapproved of the social practices of the day regarding the practice of parents enabling tyrannical behavior in their children.
This project examines the effects of writing and information technology in the medical workplace, specifically in relation to the physician-patient relationship. This research analyzes how the physician-patient relationship is affected by the drastic changes made in recent decades to how medical professionals record and disseminate knowledge. The results of this research show that patients and physicians desire less superfluous documentation and more efficient ways of recording and disseminating documentation.