Senior Thesis Projects: Media and Rhetoric

Karen E. Liparulo

Making the Mask: Constructing the “Gender” of the Transgender

A look at the transgendered community, its struggle to define itself on its own terms within mainstream culture, and the effect of this sub-culture on the western normative schemes of sex and gender. By looking at various media representations of transgendered “monsters” and “freaks” in popular culture, the author suggests a reading against the grain that reveals spaces of contradiction within such narratives. Liparulo argues that in taking on either a male or female “persona” in order to appear “normal”, the transgendered figure remains trapped within the heterosexual binary, and its desire. At the same time, the ability to “perform” a gender apart from one’s biological self also proves that it is both a psychological and social construct.

Erin E. Murphy

Date Rape: Creating an Effective Prevention Program at Allegheny College

This project examines the cultural perceptions and theories regarding date rate, especially in the college environment. The author presents an in-depth summary of the existing body of literature on the subject, the various definitions of the term, and college as well as nation-wide statistics, that provide startling revelations about how this society views the issue and female sexuality at large. The specific case study analyzed is Allegheny College and its policies and procedures to provide a safe and secure social environment for its students. The evaluation is based on extensive student, faculty, and staff interviews; and is followed by a proposal for an effective campaign aimed at creating awareness among the campus community, and includes the detailed layout for a user-friendly, informative website.

Brenna L Dykta

New York, U.S.A.: The Media’s Role in Constructing the Cultural Memory of 9/11

A discussion of the role of American media in covering the attacks on September 11, 2001, and helping to a build a specific national and cultural memory around the event. The author looks at the role of collective memory as well as social forgetting, and how media accomplished both in this case. The examination of the unfolding news in prominent agenda-setting print media like the New York Times and Newsweek, alongside television documentaries that re-constructed the events of 9/11, reveal significant differences in immediate versus distanced recollections.

Yasir Shah

AIDS, A Threat to the Ideology of Nationalism in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

This project discusses the need to challenge the Islamic idea that AIDS is a white or western disease. The author suggests that social marketing can be used strategically to dispel the myth that Pakistan is too pure to worry about the spread of AIDS, because the disease is in fact rampant in that country. The history and elements of social marketing are mapped in the early chapters, along with a discussion of its utility and application within a third world country, such as Pakistan. The AIDS predicament in Pakistan, as well as efforts to contain it are examined, followed by an analysis of the cultural challenges in discussing a taboo topic such as sex. Finally a solution is proposed that would involve culture-specific tactics aimed at specific target groups, to break down ignorance about the disease, and prevent the further spread of AIDS.

Amanda K. Sysko

Sesame Street: Building a Bridge Between Education, Citizen and Globalization

An examination of the children’s show Sesame Street, and how it relates to the project of globalization by examining its international expansion. Sesame Street has many benefits as an educational tool for children, by promoting educational television in general, and advocating the notion of children as “citizens” of a global tele-community. The author argues that international productions of Sesame Street are an example of positive globalization: modeling a hybrid format that does not impose American ideas on other cultures.