Month: August 2015

A Study of American Popular Music Festivals as Youthful Rites of Passage

Have you ever gone to a music festival? Dietrich College Honors Fellow Geneva Jackson spent the summer attending festivals in Tennessee, West Virginia, Delaware and other locations. Why? She’s researching their role as youthful rites of passage as her Senior Honors Program thesis.

Jackson, a global studies and history major, recently presented on her work. In addition to her field work, she worked with her advisor, History Professor Judith Schachter worked to define what a festival consists of for her project.

geneva presents“We have a working definition,” Jackson said. “There has to be music, even if other arts are present, and the duration has to be longer than one night.”

She also spoke about how she had to narrow her original focus from comparing festivals from the 1960s to today. Instead she will just study modern music festivals.

Jackson talked about the unique position she’s in because she’s part of the demographic she’s observing. She also described the types of data she collected – how she wrote everything she saw, trying to be objective, and what she experienced. She also wrote reflections later about what she learned and what it meant.

Moving forward, Jackson will go through all of her notes to see what fits where and find and read anthropological works on rites of passage.

Learn more about her project.

Big Bite: A Student’s First Novel

Creative writing major Eleanor Haglund has written plenty of short stories and even one novella before, but never tackled something as long and involved as a novel. Until now.

Haglund, a Humanities Scholars Program student with a psychology minor, has embarked on writing her very first novel. She spent the summer figuring out just how to do this as part of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Honors Fellowship. The fellowship allows students to get a head start on their Senior Honors Program thesis work.

eleanor presentationHaglund presented her work so far earlier this week – about how her story switched focus and how she made so much progress (100 pages written and counting!)

“My novel is a coming of age story about a girl in college,” Haglund said. “The girl is struggling with school and her family as she comes into her own. It’s totally fiction.”

Haglund was advised by English Professors Kevin González and Jane McCafferty not to outline as she began the writing process.

“But I love structure and schedules, so I freaked out,” Haglund admitted.

However, she said by not having a pre-determined path, so many doors opened for her.

“I would have focused on events and plots – and wouldn’t have focused on characters,” she said.

Haglund said that she needs to write every day, and even blogged about her quest to find the perfect location. But she’s writing and not looking back.

“It’s really hard to revise a large project as you’re going, so I plan on revising later,” Haglund said.

She plans on having a completed first draft by November.

“Then I will start with what Jane said, ‘re-envisioning what I’ve put down,’” she said.

Learn more about her novel.

Hezbollah, the Provisional Irish Republican Army and the Intersection of Militant and Political Identities

Next up in the series of posts on the Dietrich College Honors Fellowship summer presentations is Chloe Thompson, a global studies and Hispanic Studies double major with a creative writing minor.

chloepresentsWhen she applied for the fellowship program, Thompson wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do her thesis on, but she knew that it would involve non-state groups and political actors. She settled on Hezbollah, Arabic for “Party of God,” and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) because they’re two non-state actors that have separate but active militant and political arms.

Thompson described how she spent the summer looking for answers to questions such as why the PIRA transformed from a militant group to a political one and how Hezbollah maintains having both factions function.

“The great thing about this fellowship was that I didn’t need to produce something right now,” Thompson said. “I could take the time to understand and learn.”

She feels that she now has developed a mastery of the concepts, a depth of knowledge and the vocabulary to analyze and talk about both groups.

“Now, I’m at a jumping off point for figuring out what I want to say,” she said.

Thompson’s most immediate plan to tackle the next stage of her project is to keep looking for ways Hezbollah and the PIRA are similar.

Learn more about her project.

View a group photo of all of the honors fellows before their presentations.

How to Fight Jealousy

Just a reminder that today, the 2015 Dietrich College Honors Fellows presented on their work so far this summer. We had hoped to share videos of each presentation, but due to technical difficulties, we’ll just be sharing recaps and a few photos throughout the week.

For Kaylyn Kim’s Senior Honors Program thesis and fellowship project, she decided to create a psychological study to find out how to fight jealousy using security priming.photo[1] copy

Kim’s project advisor is Associate Psychology Professor Brooke Feeney, an expert in studying interpersonal relations – particularly in how close relationships help people to thrive through adversity and through the pursuit of life challenges.

First, Kim, a psychology major with a minor in creative writing, talked about how she needed to define “romantic jealousy.”

“It’s the threat of comparison and competition and the fear of being replaced,” she explained. “Jealousy is not inherently a bad emotion. It comes from a place of love, but the outcomes can be negative.”

Security priming has been shown to boost moods and self-esteem, so Kim wanted to explore how it affects jealous thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. She used imagining a partner’s touch or sound of their voice as examples of security primes.

Kim has already started running pilots, and she detailed how her experiment works. Participants must speak English, be at least 18 years old and have a romantic partner that they have been dating for at least three months who is also willing to participate. They will not be aware of the study’s real goal.

The couples will fill out background questionnaires and go through a series of activities designed to gather baseline information and then elicit jealous reactions.

Kim believes that the implications from her work will include creating interventions “to enhance the well-being of individuals and their relationships.”

Read more about Kim’s project.

Check out a photo of all of the Honors Fellows before the presentations.

Narratives in the 21st Century

Today, the 2015 Dietrich College Honors Fellows presented on their work so far this summer. We had hoped to share videos of each presentation, but due to technical difficulties, we’ll just be sharing recaps and a few photos throughout the week. (If you want to see a great picture of all of the fellows right before the presentations, click here!)

lwpresentationUp first: Laurnie Wilson. Wilson, a creative writing and history double major with a minor in German, is working on telling narratives through text and photography under English Professor Jane Bernstein. Wilson, who is in the Humanities Scholars Program, began her presentation with a dramatic reading of some of what she’s written so far.

She then talked about how at the beginning of the summer, she struggled with coming up with content to write every day. Traveling helped her solve the problem.

“It wasn’t that I wasn’t inspired,” Wilson said. “I wanted to write more about my experiences. So, I made a leap to non-fiction and travel journal writing, and the floodgates opened. My thesis work became a joy.”

Wilson still wanted to use photography in her storytelling, so she took a class while she was home in June. She said that her teacher will continue to mentor her as she moves forward with her project.

“I realized photography is just as much storytelling as writing, and I noticed that I was absorbing the world around me more,” she said.

Now, Wilson is focused on typing up her handwritten notes and organizing and transferring all of her photos and files to her computer.

“I want to be really organized at the beginning of the semester,” Wilson stated.

Then, she will start to bring out storylines from both her written pieces and pictures. Her hope is to have a final product that is a “book that you can hold” filled with text and images that tell her story.

Learn more about Wilson’s project.

Final Countdown

Behold! 10 whole pages. Only 10 more to go.

Behold! 10 whole pages. Only 10 more to go.

Hello there, everyone!

So I am entering the final stretch of my summer thesis work, and, truth be told, I’m a little wiped out. This upcoming week is about to remind me of the meaning of “hell week” – I have my final presentation and my twenty-page thesis first draft due Monday, and a test or a project due every day Tuesday – Friday for my other summer classes. On the upside, my thesis work is progressing nicely, and I have 10 pages typed up, and will be able to complete the next 10 by Monday without too much trouble. Though this weekend may be one long stare into the the white glare of my computer screen, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m fortified with snacks and caffeinated beverages and seven-hour study playlists, and this thesis will bow to my will.

My chemically questionable motivator/reward system. I don't know what: 'You could win summer's awesomest party' means, and I've already thrown out the wrapper, so we're going to have to live in ignorance.

My chemically questionable motivator/reward system. I don’t know what: ‘You could win summer’s awesomest party’ means, and I’ve already thrown out the wrapper, so we’re going to have to live in ignorance.

I’m also in the process of planning for my final presentation for Monday. I think of all the Fellows, my project is definitely the most traditional. While the other lovely and brilliant ladies in the program are designing their own studies, producing creative works in various storytelling mediums, and creating new areas of investigation all together, I’m pretty much writing one giant paper about a topic that I think is fascinating. I am not at all trying to knock my work – I think my project focuses on an area that absolutely merits further study and analysis, and is pretty cool in its own right. But while my peers will walk in on Monday and explain their processes in creating their innovative methodologies in their projects, I will be more focused on what I’ve learned and what I plan to say with the knowledge that I’ve gained.

The only problem with that is that it’s taken me two months to develop the vocabulary and the understanding that I have now, and even so, I feel that I don’t have full mastery of either of these two very complex groups. I think you could study either Hezbollah and the IRA for years and still be surprised by them on occasion. And beside that looming learning curve, I believe it will take me at least another semester to fully articulate what exactly I want to say with the ideas that I have absorbed.

So on Monday, I need to walk into a room with twenty plus people, all of whom will be staring at me, and articulate some complex and difficult ideas in ten minutes. And though I have on occasion demonstrated wit, I have yet to mastery the brevity bit that lies at its core. It’s hard for me to keep my accounts of even my simpler opinions to ten minutes, so keeping two months of academic crash-courses down to that and no more will be a pretty trick. But such is life. Part of the reason I started this project in the first place is because I wanted to learn how to explain the complex and difficult-to-understand parts of the world and its foreign policy to people who don’t necessarily have a profound personal interest in those subjects. A key component of explaining anything well is being able to do it quickly and clearly. So, this is good practice.

But to get to the practicing part, I need to finish the writing part. To that end, I’m off. Have a lovely weekend!

Oh, the weather outside's delightful... And I have more thesis left to do. Go enjoy it for me!

Oh, the weather outside’s delightful… And I have more thesis left to do. Go enjoy it for me!

Learn more about my project.