Senior Project Abstracts – Class of 2012

Projects in French

La laïcité en France: Une comparaison des lois de 1905, de 2004 et de 2010 et leurs effets sur les Français musulmans
Kerry Drew
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Laura Reeck

Since the French revolution of 1789 there has been a constant struggle between religion and secularism in France. Originally ‘les deux France’, the split between the republicans fighting for secularism and the Catholic Church, fought to end the reign of Catholicism within the country. Now, as Islam has moved into the position of the second-largest religion in France — “l’Islam de France,” the struggle to define and uphold French secularism has shifted to Islam and where it stands in the secularist culture of France. La laïcité en France focuses on three laws of the past and contemporary, all of which are currently in effect, and the opinions surrounding them. The first law, published in 1905, changed France to a secular state in order to give freedom of belief to the citizens and to separate public finances from the Church. The second law, published in 2004, forbade all ostentatious religious symbols in public schools, not including colleges or universities, in order to create a neutral educational setting for students. The final law, published in 2010, forbade all clothing that covers the face to the point where one can no longer be identified in order that all French citizens may be identified when necessary. This study will explain what secularism is today and if the original idea has changed since it was first proclaimed.

À travers l’objectif autofilmique: Une étude de Swimming Pool de François Ozon et de La mala educación de Pedro Almodóvar
Wenonah Echelard, Double Major French/Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Laura Reeck

This thesis compares Swimming Pool by French director François Ozon and La mala educación by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. The study analyzes the two films as works of cinematographic autofiction, a relatively new genre that allows authors to project themselves onto the protagonist of the work. By exploring the significance of the protagonists as well as the use of leitmotivs and cinematographic techniques, the thesis examines the self-portrait that each director presents of himself within the film. After an introduction to the directors and their filmography in the first chapter, the second and third chapters of my analysis examine how each director utilizes the genre autofiction in Swimming Pool and La mala educación to present an image of their own creative process, their self-concept as directors and their unique artistic style. The analysis of these two films allows viewers, critics and academic audiences t o understand Ozon and Almodovar on a more personal level and to penetrate the true meaning and purpose behind the works of two of the most enigmatic directors of European cinema.

Projects in German

Die Märchen der Brüder Grimm als eine Widerspiegelung der deutschen Gesellschaft vom Mittelalter bis zur Zeit, in der sie gesammelt wurden
Allison Burgess
Project Advisor: Prof. Jochen Richter

My Senior Project deals with the fairy tales that the Brothers Grimm collected and how certain tales reflect German society from the Middle Ages until the time during which they were collected. The work is separated into three chapters. The first deals with the history of fairy tales: specifically their origin and the differences between Volksmärchen and Kunstmärchen. This chapter then gives a biography of the Brothers Grimm and their work. The second chapter examines the social aspects of fairy tales and how these aspects are reflected in German society. For example, this chapter deals with rituals and customs, class, and gender. The last chapter handles the political aspects of fairy tales and how these aspects are reflected in German society. More specifically, this chapter deals with topics such as inheritance and succession and crime and punishment.

Christa Wolf: Ihre unendliche Hoffnung auf die sozialistische Utopie in ihren Werken und ihrem Leben
Christine Wachnowsky, Double Major Biochemistry/German
Project Advisor: Prof. Jochen Richter

Christa Wolf, born in 1929, lived and wrote in East Germany. At the start of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), she was a large supporter of the government, its policies and the principles of Socialism. Regardless of her support, she had to write to comply with the censor instituted by the governmental policies in order to have her work published. Wolf was able to write about both the positive and negative aspects of the reality in East Germany by writing after the construction of the Berlin Wall and by maintaining her commitment to Socialism. She encouraged others to support Socialism as she did, by incorporating the everyday life, autobiographical elements and her commitment to the socialist paradise in her works. This project aims to analyze her opinion towards the East German government and her belief in the socialist utopia in the course of the GDR by examining three of her works: Der geteilte Himmel, Störfall, and Was bleibt.

Vorstellungen der veränderlichen Stellung der Frau in der Weimarer Republik in Romanen von Irmgard Keun
Stephen Wigmore
Project Advisor: Visiting Asst. Prof. Jaclyn Kurash

The analysis of the social and economic conditions of Germany in 1848 is necessary in order to gain an understanding of the position of women in society. At the turn of the 20th century, the mechanization of the Germany economy created a new division of the working class, that is the white collar employee, the Angestellte. Young women, who were eager to leave the countryside and move to the big city, were faced with the conflict of balancing work and love and poverty and health. The first two novels, Gilgi and Das kunstseidene Mädchen, from Irmgard Keun are representations of the new woman, who challenges traditional female gender roles in the Weimar Republic. The ability for a woman to earn her own money allowed her to tailor her own future; therefore, she did not have to be solely reliant on the income of her husband. The novels from Keun embody this new woman and bring to light the harsh reality of life for a working woman in the Weimar Republic.

Eine Fesselnde Macht: Die Ausbildungsfunktion von phantastischen Kinder- und Jugendliteratur
Catherine Wresche
Project Advisor: Visiting Asst. Prof. Jaclyn Kurash

In this paper I examine the first novel in Cornelia Funke’s Tintenwelt series, Tintenherz. I chose to talk about this book because I wanted to look into the way that Funke creates a world for her readers, and much of this creation takes place in the first book. In order to understand the consequence of Funke’s novel, it is necessary to familiarize oneself with the broader history of the genre of children’s fantasy, both in the English-speaking and German-speaking traditions. One of the purposes of situating Funke’s work in the context of children’s fantasy is to be able to look that the way she continues the tradition established by prominent authors of the genre, such as C. S. Lewis or E. T. A. Hoffman. I also use the definition of fantasy to discuss how Funke’s series uses traditional themes of the genre in new ways. Specifically how Good and Evil, a traditional dichotomy for fantasy literature, are defined according to a unique moral structure.

Projects in Spanish

Los movimientos indígenas y la representación cinematográfica de la población indígena boliviana (1969-2010)
Stephanie Clark
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Wilfredo Hernández

This senior project investigates the representation of indigenous Bolivians in Spanish-language films. The project compares how the indigenous characters in three films are portrayed, and what those representations say about the situation of indigenous Bolivians at the times the films were made. Yawar Mallku, made by Bolivian director Jorge Sanjinés in 1969 is based on the true story of forced sterilization of indigenous women by the Peace Corps in the 1960’s and speaks to the problems with the “modernization” of indigenous cultures. Bolivia, made by Argentine director Israel Adrián Caetano in 2001 tells the story of a Bolivian immigrant living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is confronted with extreme racism and xenophobia. También la lluvia, was made in 2010 by Spanish director Icíar Bollaín and is based on the fight over water rights that occurred in Cochabamba in 2000.

Las facetas oscuras de México: las drogas y el narcotráfico en la cultura popular
Mitchell Close
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Wilfredo Hernández

The drug wars in Mexico have been thoroughly covered by the American media in recent years. Current estimates state that approximately 48,000 Mexicans have died as a result of cartel violence from 2006-2011. Given the widespread cartel violence, one must wonder how drugs and drug traffickers are represented throughout the country. The writer discusses the representation of the drug trade and drug trafficker in contemporary Mexican popular culture: a century of history with respect to drug traffic, popular movies, popular music and the book Balas de plata by Élmer Mendoza are examined. Each chapter of the thesis is dedicated to one of these subjects.
The first chapter is dedicated to the drug history of Mexico in the 20th century. The changing of marijuana from its status of “legal” to “illegal” is examined, as well as the birth of cocaine, the use of opium and the emergence of cartels. The second chapter is dedicated to the popular music of Mexico, specifically the “narcocorrido”, a genre that typically glorifies the lives and actions of the cartels and traffickers. The third chapter is focused on the detective novel Balas de plata by Élmer Mendoza, a famous Mexican writer. This book is about a case that is assigned to detective Edgar “el Zurdo” Mendieta in which a prestigious lawyer is shot through the head with a silver bullet: cartel activity is suspected in the murder. Lastly, the popular movies Rudo y Cursi and El infierno are examined to see how the drug trafficker and his wares are portrayed.

La pronunciación de sonidos diferentes: España y la República Dominicana
Jazmine Devers
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Barbara Riess

My senior thesis is about the study of sound/pronunciation of the Spanish language. I investigated the differences of orthoepy in Spain and the Dominican Republic. I discussed about the Spanish language differences in Europe and the Caribbean. I investigated how the Spanish in these countries has changed or adapted from the standard Spanish. The standard Spanish is the correct form of Spanish spoken in Spanish speaking countries that is based on the Castilian dialect. I described standard Spanish language and wrote about the many different definitions. Then I analyzed the two dialects and described the differences with examples from a number of linguists. There were many linguists with different opinions about the standard Spanish but in my conclusion there was only a few that I agreed with and that is that the standard Spanish is not a dialect. After figuring out the differences between the dialects, I then observed a Spanish soap opera, Vien tos de Agua, to observe the linguistic differences as the characters talked to each other. I compared the linguistic differences to what the linguists described it as and the changes. Also I analyzed how the Spanish language has changed in the soap opera from the standard Spanish and compared it to other media sources. In this thesis I compared phonetic rules and dialects. I was able to determine the differences in the language with a Spanish series and the theories of linguists that have studied the phonetic rules for decades.

La vieja herida: Un estudio de la traducción a través de Armando Rojas Guardia
Reed Dunkle
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Barbara D. Riess

A study of translation through the poetry of Venezuelan writer Armando Rojas Guardia. The first chapter introduces translation as an academic field, its development through history to its modern form, and contemporary translation methodology. Special attention is paid to the importance of situating the author and his language in their culture. With this in mind, chapter two is dedicated to Rojas Guardia, establishing a robust understanding of his experiences, personal pursuits, influences, and tendencies. It is a documentation of my attempt to don the idiosyncrasies of the author, and in turn offer that ripe empathy to the translation of his poetry. The final chapter then presents six selected poems by Armando Rojas Guardia, my translation of each, and a respective analysis of the poem to assume its substance and then reinvent that force in English.

Lorca y Neruda: Confluencias e influencias
Gregory Eyer, Double Major Chemistry/Spanish
Project Advisor: Asst. Prof. Teresa Herrera

I investigated the friendship between Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda through the context from the day they first met until the day that Neruda published España en el corazón. I will demonstrate that there were connections between the poetry that each author published before they met through the similarities between the poetry of Poeta en Nueva York by Lorca and Residencia en la tierra by Neruda. Ultimately, I proved that España en el corazón was influenced by Lorca’s death through the appearance of Lorquian themes and descriptions. Through the analysis of these three poetry collections, it will be evident that the death of his good Spanish friend affected Neruda manifested through the poetry he published during the Spanish Civil War.

El Alcohol Aumentado: La evolución de su consumo en España entre los jóvenes según el cine
Daniel Jacobs, Double Major Biology/Spanish
Project Advisor: Asst. Prof. Teresa Herrera

Alcohol has been an integral part of Spanish culture for hundreds of years. Yet while its presence has remained constant, its usage has changed within recent years. While traditional alcohol consumption patterns displayed frequent but moderate usage, current consumption has seen the emergence of binge drinking within the youth culture. With this new emphasis on intoxication, the manner in which alcohol is consumed has changed as well in order to meet the demands of more alcohol while still remaining economical. This evolution in consumption has led to the emergence of “el botellón,” a practice when youth gather in public places to drink heavily and socialize before going to the bars later in the night. This new trend among youth, however, has led to a variety of societal problems.
This thesis discovers a variety of factors that have contributed to this excessive consumption of alcohol among Spanish youth. Through an examination of available scientific literature, I have discovered a variety of cultural aspects that contribute to the emergence of this practice, namely family structure, economic distress, and a delay in maturity through a lack of independence. Furthermore, fictional cinematography offers a different perspective to discover causality. For this, I examine Historias del Kronen and 7 Vírgenes, which both portray this interaction between Spanish youth and alcohol. The conclusion to which this study arrives is that due to the unconditional support of families, Spanish youth have developed a sense of invincibility that causes them to engage in risky behavior without fear of repercussions. The information discovered through the combination of scientific literature and an analysis of two works of cinema shows the complexity of the situation and suggests that multiple, and not one factor are responsible for the emergence of binge drinking and consequently el botellón.

Iluminando las sombras del pasado: un estudio de la emigración española a otros países europeos durante el tardofranquismo
Leah Jaenicke
Project Advisor: Asst. Prof. Teresa Herrera

Although it has been less than four decades since the death of Francisco Franco, little is remembered of Spanish immigration to other European countries during the late Franco era. Although there are fictional works on this topic they do not, generally, critique the events that occurred during this immigration. The objective of this thesis is to explore how the representation of Spanish immigration to Europe during 1960s and 1970s has evolved. In order to achieve this goal, I compare immigrant’s image presented by a film in 1970, Vente a Alemania, Pepe with the portrayal of the immigrant in a 2006 motion picture, Un franco, 14 pesetas. Both films distance themselves from the historical truth which, in this study, is represented through the documentary El tren de la memoria. In contemporary society there is a strong interest to know the historical truth of the Francoist past. Therefore, this analysis of the representation of the Spanish immigrant during the late Franco era will question the widespread assumption that many people yearn to know the chilling events that occurred during Franco’s regime.

Cine argentino y la crítica de la dictadura militar (1985-2005)
Christina McCarty
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Professor Hernández

At the time of the military coup in Argentina in 1976, the country was ready for a change. The economy was incredibly unstable, inflation through the roof, and the democratic government of Isabel Perón could not reach an agreement with the guerrilla organizations to end the constant acts of terrorism. A junta of the three branches took over and declared war on ‘subversive’ elements of the population. Their war included the kidnapping, detention, torture and disappearance of an estimated 30,000 citizens. The military dictatorship also imposed very restrictive censorship laws on all forms of cultural expression as they were thought to encourage subversion. The government continued its reign of terror for eight years until a series of bad choices and poor economic controls left Argentines calling for a change. They got it in 1983 when elections were held.
The Argentine film industry was directly impacted by the military rule. Once the censorship that had been in place during the military dictatorship was revoked, film became a medium of criticizing the regime as well as a form of preserving the memory of the disappeared. The purpose of this thesis is to analyze this criticism across the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s through three films, La historia oficial, Garage olimpo, and Kamchatka. Also important is the influence of historical, political and economic factors on the Argentine film industry after the return to democracy in 1984 through 2005.

Caudillos with Electoral Legitimacy: The Consequences of Personalism in Latin American Politics
Marco Parodi, Double Major International Studies/Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Barbara Riess

The term caudillo has a large variety of definitions. However, it most commonly describes regimes that utilize charisma and political patronage in order to obtain and maintain a hold on power. The loyalty of the populace is concentrated on the person of the leader and not on an institution. As such, the term need not be limited to describing dictatorships. It can be used to describe any regime that utilizes personalistic tactics. The presidential administrations of Benito Juárez between 1867 and 1872 and those of Hipólito Yrigoyen between 1916 and 1930 fall under this definition of caudillismo. These two men, Mexican and Argentine respectively, were unable to break from their countries’ past systems of caudillo rule, despite their democratic idea. This work is a case study of the actions these two presidents took, how these actions demonstrate the flaws of caudillismo, and what effect these actions had on their societies in the long run in terms of prospects for democracy. The ways in which their choices affected the advancement of democracy is particularly important since these men are considered to be national heroes in their countries. Additionally the analysis of the dictator novel El señor presidente, written by Guatemalan author Miguel Ángel Asturias aids in the development of an understanding of the effects of caudillismo on the people within a society. It presents a different perspective as it captures the feelings of the population in a way that history may struggle with. The novel also presents a broad based critique of caudillismo that encompasses the experience of all Spanish America in regards to life under a dictatorship. When combined, the different perspectives, along with the different situations outlined in the case studies provide a complex picture of caudillismo that applies to the entire continent.

El impacto del asma en la cultura latinoamericana: el caso de la vida de Ernesto Guevara
Todd Pindroh, Double Major Biology/Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Wilfredo Hernández

Of the 300 million people who suffer from asthma every day, about 40 million of them live in Latin and South Americas. Asthma has been defined as a severe respiratory disease that can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. However, the many people suffering from asthma in Latin and South Americas may have a harder time dealing with the disease because of the decreased amount of resources found within undeveloped and third world countries. A huge part of asthma these days is the lack of education about the disease for the general public. There have been many publications issued that stress the importance of understanding the disease however again many people in the undeveloped and third world countries do not have access to these publications and therefore do not have the knowledge and understanding of the disease that is needed to fully treat it. This is why I developed this thesis.
It is obvious that the big issue about asthma is the lack of awareness. The people of the Latin American countries are unable to recognize when the symptoms of asthma occur or even how they occur. There have been reports that suggest that there is an increased level of risk factors found within the Latin American countries that go unnoticed every day. I wanted to bring back this aware to the people of Latin America so that the proper measures can be taken to either eliminate the risk factors or treat the disease properly.
In my thesis, I use information about the disease itself in order to share a basic understanding of how the disease works within the human body. I describe the immune system and how the asthmatic response to the risk factors creates the deadly symptoms of asthma. I also describe the history of treatments that are associated with asthma and how they have developed throughout the years as the knowledge of asthma has increased.
I also felt that it would be useful to explain a film about a prominent figure in South America. Ernesto Che Guevara lived with asthma his whole life but he was able to overcome the suffering associated with it to pursue his dreams. He dreamt of traveling all over South America and becoming an important figure in medicine and the government. His story shows that people with asthma can be successful. I also use information written by his father to describe how the family reacted to their lifestyle and struggle with Ernesto and his asthma.

Cine político en México: el caso de Luis Estrada
Alicia Seggelink, Double Major Biochemistry/Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Wilfredo Hernández

Due to political and economical changes in Mexico leading up to the 1990s, the film industry has suffered greatly. However, with the coming of the 90s came a new era of film characterized by its use of lighthearted humor, discussion of social issues, and the employment of a style influenced by Hollywood. Luis Estrada, who belongs to the group of directors responsible for this type of film, has created a trilogy of works that has changed the film industry in Mexico forever. This thesis focuses on the first and last movie of the trilogy, Lay ley de Horodes (1999) and El infierno (2010). With the first of these two films, Estrada refused to accept the censorship being imposed over his highly political work and also avoided enlatamiento, or shelving, of this movie. His refusal eventually helped bring about the removal of the censorship of movies in terms of their themes and content. The government would no longer censure films with highly political themes or ones that critique the federal army. Mexico became a country with true freedom of expression in film.
The films of Estrada are very political and speak of the corruption and other national themes that were once taboo in Mexico. He repeatedly shows that the country has remained stagnant for years since the PRI took office. However, even with the change of control of the presidency to the PAN, Estrada shows in his movies that Mexico has not improved but been made worse. His ominous point of view is presented in a humorous, satirical way as his critiques extend from the government, to the Church, to the general population. In La ley de Herodes, Estrada superimposes two PRI regimes to demonstrate his views, while in El infierno, he gives a retelling of current events about drug trafficking and violence in Mexico. Both of these works were extremely controversial but still continue to make audiences reflect on what Estrada is saying with the script and the national images he put on the screen.

Una perspectiva diferente: La historia de la guerra civil en Guatemala contada en los testimonios de las mujeres mayas y la novela maya
Penelope Shepherd
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Barbara Riess

Many historical accounts of the Guatemalan Civil War leave out the Mayan perspective, in particular the perspective of Mayan woman. Testimonies have been seen as a way that Mayan women have broken the silence to further their fight for justice and recognition in Guatemala. Furthermore, Gaspar Pedro González used testimony to create a work of fiction that tries to represent the perspective of all Mayans. This project aims to find the voice of the Mayan woman in history by analyzing two testimonies with different themes from the book Tejedoras de paz. The project also examines the Mayan perspective in El Retorno de los mayas by Gaspar Pedro González, paying close attention to the portrayal of women in the novel.

La Cultura de fútbol y el cuento en Argentina contemporánea: Osvaldo Soriano y Eduardo Sacheri
Arthur Smith
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Wilfredo Hernández

“La Cultura de fútbol y el cuento en Argentina contemporánea: Osvaldo Soriano y Eduardo Sacheri” presents an analysis of soccer in Argentina. More specifically, it deals with the culture of soccer in Argentina and how this culture was created. The first chapter presents an overview of the history of soccer. It traces soccer from its origins in England in the 1860’s to its arrival in Argentina during the 1890’s. It examines cultural trends and social institutions that helped to transform soccer into the most popular sport in Argentina. In addition, it discusses the importance of the game in Argentina during the twentieth century and it considers the different ways in which the cultural perception of soccer influences the way in which the sport is viewed on an individual, personal level.
The second chapter examines Arqueros, ilusionistas y goleadores, a book by an Argentinean author; Osvaldo Soriano (1943-1997). This book is a collection of short stories about soccer in Argentina. The book was published in 1998 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Each story is a personal account about soccer, from the point of view of someone who has played, watched, or had some sort of involvement with the sport. I use three stories to present the reader with an understanding of the meaning of soccer to individuals in Argentina. Soriano is an author who wrote from the 1960’s to the 1990’s. He has a unique perspective on soccer because he was writing during a time of great political and social unrest in Argentina. In addition, during the time in which Soriano was writing, the game did not receive as much coverage in the media as it does today.
The third chapter looks at Esperándolo a Tito y otros cuentos de fútbol, a book written by another Argentinean author, Eduardo Sacheri (1967- ). He is considered to be one of the great contemporary Argentinean authors and he started writing during the 1990’s. This book was published in 2000 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is another collection of short stories about soccer in Argentina and it presents a more modern take on the importance of the game to Argentineans. It discusses a wide variety of themes including memories of soccer, the passion of the sport, the importance of unity in soccer and the experience of being a fan of a professional team. This book provides an interesting contrast to the book written by Soriano because it was written during a period of political stability in Argentina.
The goal of this thesis was attempting to understand the intricacies of soccer that make it attractive and appealing to individuals. Soccer is a global phenomenon and the most popular sport on the planet. By looking at the game through literature and more specifically, by reading stories about soccer in Argentina, I developed an understanding of what the sport means to people.

“Disfraces incómodos”: un análisis comparativo de la posición social de la mujer española en el Franquismo y la Democracia
Erin Wahl
Project Advisor: Asst. Prof. Teresa Herrera

This thesis analyzes the position of women in Spanish society in two time periods: the dictatorship of Francisco Franco and the early Democracy. It presents the political and economic atmospheres of both time periods in order to evaluate whether or not the roles of women in Spanish society have changed, or if, in fact, the new democratic society still restricted women under principles that were imposed during the Franco era. In order to answer this question, it compares the representation of women in two novels, one from each period: Nada by Carmen Laforet (1944), from the dictatorship, and Nubosidad variable by Carmen Martín Gaite (1992), from the Democracy. To compare the social position of women in each of these times periods, it analyzes the representation of masculine characters in these two novels, as well as the representation of women according to the generation to which they belong: those born into the dictatorship and those born into the Democracy. The findings suggest that, although the Democracy has legally changed the social position of the Spanish woman in society (with respect to her rights), some individuals born during the Franco era still uphold the social expectations that were imposed on women during the dictatorship.