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Individual paper proposal (Folklore): Sample 1
In this folklore project, I focus on stories that are told about childhood which the subject has no personal memory of. Often memories of childhood are so few that we rely on family members to tell us stories of who we were at that age, which can impact the way we view our identity. We can either integrate these stories into the core of who we are or decide that who we are doesn’t fit the narrative our families push on us. In my research, I document fourteen of these “second-hand personal narratives” and analyze how these stories affect the contributors. I examine the narratives based on three questions: (1) Where/when is this story told?; (2) Why was the story repeatedly told?; (3) Does this story fit the way the person sees their identity in the present? I ultimately conclude that these stories have immense power to shape us as we grow up.
Individual paper proposal (English Teaching): Sample 2
Receiving feedback on writing can often feel like flaws and insecurities are being exposed to a bitter frost. The words can hurt and hinder our progress as both writers and learners. This presentation hopes to address how English educators can provide feedback on student writing that changes the experience from a negative to a positive one. Like a photo needing exposure in order for its image to be brought to light, exposure can be an enlightening and propelling experience, and the same can be said of feedback. This presentation introduces the concept of the exposure triangle (a diagram often used in adjusting exposure settings in photography) in the context of student feedback. The three key elements that impact the feedback experience are scope (aperture), duration (shutter speed), and vulnerability (ISO). By looking at the interactions between these elements, I argue that just as photographers make setting adjustments to bring about a high quality photo, teachers can make adjustments to their feedback to bring about high quality writing.
Individual paper proposal (Rhetoric): Sample 3
Rhetoric is an implicit part of athletics, partially because of media coverage and partially because athletic performances are rhetorical performances. To better understand how athletic performances function rhetorically, I examine three iconic moments in sports using the rhetorical “icon” as a base. These three moments are 1) Michael Jordan’s shot over the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989 to win the series and send his team to the next round; 2) Kerri Strug’s vault on a broken ankle in the 1996 Olympics, which secured the U.S. gold medal in team gymnastics; and 3) Conor McGregor’s interview after becoming the first double-champion in UFC history.
I first examine what is necessary for any moment — and specifically sports moments — to be considered iconic. I then examine how these three moments fulfill those requirements in different ways, indicating that moments can be iconic for different reasons, but they always fulfill these three requirements. I then consider the implications of these considerations on rhetoric and on athletics, specifically how athletic moments teach us about rhetoric.
Individual paper proposal (Literature): Sample 4
This paper explores the twentieth-century novel, My Ántonia by Willa Cather and the way this narrative rejects the words that had been used to describe women, femininity, domesticity, and race in domestic fiction. The words used within these pieces of fiction and the more general rhetoric of the time denied women, especially immigrant women of women of color, acknowledgement of their individuality and their role in the national identity of America. My presentation will discuss how Cather’s novel critiques systems of whiteness and patriarchy and celebrates the experiences of immigrant women, through words that challenge and empower. Cather’s novel can and should be read today in order to continue to empower the words and voices of marginalized groups and to redefine our sense of what defines Americanness today. Our words, ideas, and values, make up who we are as individuals and as a nation, so we must consider which groups these words, ideas, and values represent and how that translates into the formation of our culture and nation.
Individual paper proposal (Literature): Sample 5
In his book, The Book of Dead Philosophers, Simon Critchley follows the various philosophical perspectives of “190 or so dead philosophers” (1) in an effort to elucidate the societal investment with death throughout the centuries. Beyond simply thinking, reasoning, or arguing how death comes about, Critchley’s work illustrates how death continues to influence culture and thought throughout the twenty-first century. I would like to call attention to the way English writers, thinkers, and philosophers of the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries address death. Turning to the various Early Modern confrontations with death is relevant because the work done in this literature provides the foundation for understanding the deaths we experience. I will be focusing specifically on the way Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, and the martyrdoms of Thomas More and Anna Askew illuminate the role of death in the twenty-first century production of the film Room (2015). Throughout these texts, the confrontation with death leads to an inevitable moment of choice, and it is precisely that moment of choice that I argue necessitates greater examination. The decision between hope and despair, fear and faith, life and death seems very straightforward. But in each of the instances mentioned, the choice that brought life wasn’t life. It was death.
Individual paper proposal (Literature): Sample 6
This paper examines the occult-coded language in “Retired Elizabeth,” a chapter in Cotton Mather’s 1722 medical guide, The Angel of Bethesda, in the context of two significant Puritan beliefs: first, that women by nature are highly susceptible to devilish influences; and second, that witchcraft is the ultimate manifestation of feminine evil. By approaching “Retired Elizabeth” from this historical context, we can readily see Mather’s fear of women’s reproductive capability becoming twisted into a form of witchcraft. This perspective not only lends insight into why Mather is so concerned about the occult in “Retired Elizabeth” but also why he makes such a concerted effort to intrude into the birthing room—and women’s personal and spiritual affairs more generally. In light of this reading, “Retired Elizabeth” becomes an important point of convergence for studies regarding eighteenth- century ideas of witchcraft and Puritan attitudes regarding women.
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