Undergraduate Honors

Undergraduate Honors Program Information

2020

  • Jessica Araten

    she/her/hers
    Honors Thesis Advisor Honors Thesis Title

    Queer Aestheticism – A Mirrored Resistance: Andy Warhol and The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Abstract

    The project at hand analyses The Picture of Dorian Gray through a close examination of Andy Warhol’s work and words. Wilde’s novel and Warhol’s oeuvre may be seen as part of a longstanding – and still-standing – tradition of queer aesthetics.  That tradition acts both as a mode of queer resistance against normative structures, and as a means of survival/success in the dominant cultural landscape. In placing the burden of interpretation upon their respective audiences, both Gray and Warhol assert “it is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.” Though differing in time, place, and medium, Wilde’s Dorian Gray (as both work and character) and Warhol (as both creator and character) are testament to homosexual existence, resilience.  

     

  • Mary Bready

    she/her/hers
    Honors Thesis Advisor Honors Thesis Title

    The Impact of the Minimum Wage on the Gender Wage Gap

    Abstract

    Women in the United States currently earn just over 80 cents for every dollar that men make. While the gender wage gap has decreased since the middle of the 20th century, at the current rate of increase, it will take women over 40 years to reach full parity with men. For women of color, it will likely take additional decades to earn the equivalent of white men. The causes for the current disparity in pay are multifaceted from women’s historically low labor force participation rate to undervalued feminized industries to the gendered impacts of early and current wage floors. Because of the numerous causes, it is not easy to fully address the wage gap to meaningfully reduce it.

    Farm laborers and restaurant workers are largely excluded from many of the job protections and pay guarantees of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Likewise, 9 out of the 10 lowest paying jobs are composed of primarily women. As a result women are more likely to be in the lower part of the income distribution just as a result of the industries that they are most likely to populate. To reduce the wage gap for those women in the lowest part of the income distribution, an increased minimum wage could promote wage parity between men and women, by shrinking the spread of the wage distribution and as a result, reducing the gender wage gap.

  • Briar Essex

    they/them/theirs
    Honors Thesis Advisor Honors Thesis Title

    transcripts
    Or: a provisionary poetics

    Abstract

    “Transcript,” (n. and adj.) a written copy, a legal record or, a verbal or close translation or rendering or, a copy, imitation, reproduction, rendering, interpretation.

    *

    There are many ways to use a transcript, there are many ways to read a transcript. This project provides a reading of the word transcript to complicate and trouble the boundaries of the given definition, and to suggest different ways of reading. Utilizing definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary, a basis of queer and trans theory, and inflected by the work of trans, queer, and language-seeking poets, this thesis investigates the linguistic impossibility of expressing a transgender embodiment. It is a pedagogical project of asking questions of language, and negotiating the ways this may be both marginalizing and liberating. It is a form of recording, tracing, and indexing thoughts and threads available at the time of writing, and imagining the possibilities of reading beyond the parameters that language prescribes. 

     

  • Lovett Finnegan

    they/them/theirs
    Honors Thesis Advisor Honors Thesis Title

    Beyond Inclusion: A Critical Review of Narrating Trans Lives in the Wilcox Archives

    Abstract

    A narrative of archival excavation, Beyond Inclusion reviews the structure of trans life narratives enabled by the collections preserved in Philadelphia’s John J. Wilcox Archives at the William Way LGBTQ Community Center. The collections considered include five decades of the community center’s newsletters, self-portraits of lawyer and Air Force veteran Donna Mae Stemmer, the personal and organizational papers of trans health care activist Ben Singer, and the memorial collection dedicated advocate and community leader Jaci Adams. The arc of the thesis works from historical methodologies described by Foucault to critical trans and critical trans of color theories to work in conversation with the narrative and archival turns necessary for improving narrativesof trans lives and communities. The work of critical analysis and contextualization calls-in responsible archival hands,those of archival practitioners, researchers, and donors, to expand their practices of naming, claiming, allying, and connecting with communities through collective practices of legacy.

  • Wesley Neal

    he/him/his
    Honors Thesis Advisor Honors Thesis Title

    Trans Colonialism: The State Project and White Trans Men in the United States from 1870 Onward

    Abstract

    This thesis traces the development of white transgender male identity as in alignment with the goals of the United States political state and its theft of land and labor from Indigenous and Black people. Beginning substantially earlier than other works on the topic, with the 1870s, it expands on three key eras of white transgender male identity: the period of frontier expansion, the mid- to late-twentieth century, and the 21st century. Through these eras, white transgender men are understood as a central part of history of white male identity in the United States, and evaluated for their complicities and active participation in benefitting from racialized gender and accordance of benefits to white men. In addition to providing a summary of the history of racialized gender in the United States, particularly the subsidization of white manhood through frontier and suburban expansion, this thesis engages in textual analysis of newspaper coverage, personal writing, intra-community publications, and autobiography to demonstrate the narrativization of white transgender men’s identities. The thesis then points to the importance of understanding white transgender men’s history in the framework of their invovlement and bolstering of settler-colonialism in the United States, contrasting the historical work done in the thesis with other forms of transgender historization which threaten to venerate white transgender men as inherently in opposition to state projects of violence.

     

     

  • Desteni Rivers

    she/her/hers
    Honors Thesis Advisor Honors Thesis Title

    Utilizing Doulas to Achieve Reproductive Justice for Black Women

    Abstract

    Black Women in the United States are currently experiencing an epidemic in maternal health. According to a nation-wide report, Non-Hispanic Black women experience maternal mortality at a rate three to four times that of non-Hispanic white women (Nine Maternal Mortality Review Committees, 2018). Additionally, Black women experience disparities in quality of maternal health care due to sexist, patriarchal norms and biases which permeate throughout the healthcare industry as well as healthcare policies. Many disparities and injustices being perpetrated against Black women today can be traced to historical precedents of American Chattel Slavery and the rise of Eugenic ideologies. Therefore, comprehensive solutions such as implementing doula care acknowledge the historic discrimination which impact present disparities in maternal health.

    Mainstream feminism has historically failed to address such challenges to Black women’s health and wellbeing. Consequently, the movement of reproductive justice has been brought forth by activists and scholar-activists (predominantly Black women) who are determined to expand the dialogue of reproductive rights from the narrow ideology of “pro-choice” towards one’s human right to survive and thrive through pregnancy and parenting. Reproductive Justice may become a reality for Black women through the utilization of culturally competent doulas who are aware of the many systemic inequalities Black women face when faced with maternal health and wellbeing.

  • Chloe Tan

    she/her/hers
    Honors Thesis Advisor Honors Thesis Title

    Matters of Heart(land): Housing Kinship, and State Power in Singapore

    Abstract

    Singapore is a nation of paradoxes. Renowned for its rapid economic transformation from third world to first, Singapore’s global city aspirations necessitate an open, cosmopolitan approach to development. Yet, the state continues to maintain a conservative, moralistic stance on deviant subjectivities, resulting in the valorization of specific forms of kinship that intersect with gender, sexuality, race, class, and citizenship. I examine these ideological incongruences in the case of public housing, contending that there exists a triangular relationship between housing policy, kinship relations, and state power. Through rhetoric surrounding the figure of the "heartlander", I argue that the state regulates citizens' private and communal lives through their access to public housing, furthering a national project of a heterosexually reproductive and economically productive Singapore. However, I also complicate and move beyond the stereotypical narrative of the state as a dominant, paternalistic government ruling over a silent, obsequious citizenry. Through the use of local literature, I flip the script to show how citizens understand themselves and their connection to the nation. In revealing the idealized Singaporean subject to be a myth propagated by the state, I highlight the role of literature and poetic language as sites for negotiation, resistance, and self-definition.