7th Annual Undergraduate Writers’ Conference
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Conference Director: Caley O’Dwyer Feagin
Keynote Speaker: Aimee Bender
Analytical Essay (123 submissions)
Deck the Halls with Boughs of Folly: Camelot’s Unfortunate Victory
Prasertvit offers the reader an original interpretation of the classic Arthurian legend Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The essay broadly encompasses the implications of the entire text while being grounded in minute nuances of Middle English prosody. Its thesis is weighty and complex, yet it is argued and defended with illuminating analytical precision. Prasertvit’s essay teaches us how games can reveal conflicts in opposing yet mutually dependent value systems, how rules can be forms of self-imposed hypocrisy, and how ‘winning’ can mean self-deception.
Hrishikesh (Rishi) Joshi
On Frege’s Theory of Sense and Reference
Joshi’s work lucidly analyzes Gotttlob Frege’s theory of sense and reference, past and recent critical reception of this theory, and ultimately offers a new non-Fregean framework to understand sense and expression. In a sophisticated piece using original examples, Joshi makes readers aware of the current critical limitations of both the theory itself and its responses, while promoting an alternative.
Dueling With Censorship: Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series’ Pastiche of Dubbing
Furman’s essay does an excellent job of highlighting how revision of a particular text, in this case a dubbed version of Yo-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters’ first episode on YouTube, can create new and powerful meanings. The paper shows this process by making interesting lateral moves between anime, new media, and cultural studies theoretical frameworks, applying them to a reading of the abridged series episode on YouTube. In so doing, Furman allows us to see how “fan made content” can ultimately reshape how we interact with online texts.
Researched Essay (142 submissions)
The Voice of a Generation
Ghulamhussein explores the underlying social marginalization of second and third generation Muslims in France that developed into the 2004 ban on wearing of hijabs, the headscarf donned by Muslim women as a sign of modesty, in public schools. In her analysis, the conflict arose out of a conflict between a secular public sphere with a uniquely French cultural identity and the secondary social status placed on the North African community in France. Ghulamhussein’s essay is an exemplary model of analytical research.
Identity, Fractured into Fundamentals: Post-Colonialism and its Application in The Reluctant Fundamentalist
In this gracefully written essay, Colin Dwyer identifies a recurring pattern in post-colonial literature, namely a pursuit of political, linguistic, and cultural identity. He then traces this pattern in Moshin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a novel that depicts the neo-colonialism of the United States in Pakistan. Dwyer’s powerful conclusion is that by “…subjugating the neo-colonial in his literature [much as] the neo-colonial has subjugated Hamid’s people,” Hamid has given the Pakistani back their voice.
Reimagining the Figueroa Corridor: Growth Politics, Policy, and Displacement
Taking an urban sociological and historical approach, Wu provides a longitudinal study of urban renewal along the Figueroa Corridor in terms of three crucial downtown Los Angeles developments: the Convention Center, the Staples Center, and L.A. Live. The essay offers a meticulously supported account of the different ways in which those projects have been defended and resisted over the past four decades, arguing against the assumption that tourism- and entertainment-focused urban renewal will equitably and substantially improve quality of life for all affected Angelinos.
Carbon Statecraft: Russia’s Attitude, Capacities and Future Under the Kyoto Protocol
Livingston’s paper examines Russia’s role as a contributor to environmental health on a global scale. Ultimately, he concludes that based on its sheer size (and its control over huge forest areas), Russia is in a unique position to affect climate change. He points out that in light of the Kyoto Protocol, if unchecked, Russia’s current policies may have lasting negative consequences.
Professional Writing/Moral Reasoning (107 submissions)
Notes from Cuba: The Importance of Primary Care
In this personal account, the author presents vivid details about his experience working within Cuba’s community healthcare system. Mr. Lang concludes that the connections between healthcare providers are the keys to creating the comprehensive system of care that Cuban’s enjoy. What is compelling about this paper isn’t just the first-person account, but the comparison to a country that the U.S. has denigrated as being less efficient because of its communist regime. The author creates an engaging critique of U.S. health care practices without being preachy.
Coffeehouse Urbanism: Giving a Jolt to the March Toward True Walkability
Yao’s essay examines connections between “walkability” and “sustainability” in urban planning, arguing that “Seattle neighborhoods and other city neighborhoods with similar concentrations of coffeehouses, demonstrate a successful pedestrian network” since “coffeehouses exist at the crux of ideal urban design and land use.” Architectural citations support the author’s contentions, while the vividness of the writing brings the richly exemplary buildings, streets and neighborhoods to life.
Michael on Business: A New Paradigm for Business Blogging
In an accessible, engaging style, Kianmahd’s 25 distinct blog post entries weigh in on topics as diverse as the valuation of Twitter, the demise of GM’s Saturn brand, FDIC takeovers, and the more general intersection of government and financial marketplace. We are afforded the opportunity to observe Kianmahd responding with depth and breadth to unfolding events and shifting financial scenarios in real time.
Aging in Place and Fall Prevention: Home Modification Policy Recommendations
Chin’s essay is exceptionally well researched, integrating sources from a variety of fields—chiefly medicine, law, economics, and public policy—into a valuable original interdisciplinary analysis. The essay is written with compelling urgency, and it is nuanced and thoughtful in every corner. Ultimately, Chin concludes that “health care professionals, builders, legislators, and consumers must work together to make home modifications more accessible to those in need – low income and low functioning older individuals.”
Creative Work (177 submissions)
Hawley’s story describes a young rape survivor confronting her own experience through the accidental discovery of another victim of sexual violence. Hawley does an excellent job of confronting the challenging emotional implications of sexual violence without compromising the honesty or depth of the writing. Throughout the piece, the young woman who the protagonist discovers battered in the snow remains an effective symbol of the protagonist’s own experience.
Her Eyes Round Like Coconuts (A Short Story Collection on the Immigrant Experience of Alienation and Otherness)
These three short stories introduce readers to characters linked by their experience of being dislocated from their culture of origin. This dislocation finds its parallel in their literal and figurative inability to connect with one another: a woman leaves her childhood friends to go to college and fails to contact them, a mother attempts to reach out to her daughter to find “only herself. . .staring back at her.” Moving fluidly between past and present, Sipin’s keenly perceptive prose traces the subtle emotional shifts lying just below the surface of daily life.
How to Become the Brother of a Drug Addict
Clayton’s story builds its intensities with an austerity reminiscent of the morality play Everyman. Following the brisk commands of the story’s second-person narration, readers witness and negotiate the troublesome identities revealed in the protagonist’s family. Prompted by the clever structure of twelve steps, readers may also find they’re asked to confront, without comforting self-delusions, their own pared-down image. This is a powerful, high-yield exercise.
A Man Dies Happy
In his short story, Andrew Ramirez captures the feel of a uniquely Western rootlessness. Detached from one another and themselves, his characters use language in ways that reveal the distance between them. Ramirez’ descriptions expose that distance as well. With each well-chosen descriptive detail, he compels the reader to wander further into his vividly imagined, utterly compelling fictional world.
How To Save Your Son From the World
With Thielke’s story we are introduced to the plight of a mother trying to save her son from the school bully. What makes the story distinctive, in addition to the masterful use of the tricky second person point of view, is Thielke’s ability to empathize with her characters, particularly with the mother’s recognition of the hopelessness of her quest. In the story’s final lines, we see the combination of desperation and resignation with which all parents must ultimately contend.