Rachel Branson
Rachel Branson '14 double majored in English literature and international studies. 

Student Research Spotlight

"Carving the Perfect Citizen: The Adventures of Italian Pinocchio in the Soviet Union and the United States"

Rachel Branson '14

For her honors project, Rachel followed the narrative transformation of the plot of The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi from text to film as well as cross-cultural modifications. The narrative maintained its basic structure and story in each version (Italian, English, Russian), while still including significant changes that make the tale relevant and important for the pertinent culture. 

Fairy tales at once confront prominent sociocultural issues while simultaneously performing a didactic function. In Pinocchio, each incarnation includes an ideological message, whether it's to be a moral and good little boy in the Italian text or in the American Walt Disney movie, or to be an ideal Soviet citizen, as depicted in the Russian text and film. 

Rachel received a Phi Beta Kappa Liberal Arts Scholar Award for her paper. She is a graduate teaching fellow and Ph.D. student in comparative literature at the University of Oregon. 

Student Research and Honors Projects

The University encourages qualified students to pursue projects of original research under the guidance of a faculty member. Students should discuss their interest in Research Honors with their academic advisor in order to determine whether they qualify.

Students may seek Research Honors in their major field (or in another field in which six course units will have been completed prior to beginning the Honors Project) provided that a cumulative grade average of at least 3.25 overall and 3.50 in the field in which honors are sought has been maintained.

A student's intention to attempt Honors Research must be declared to the Associate Provost by October 1 of the student's senior year. Independent study credit may be earned for work associated with the completion of an Honors Research project. The assent of a faculty member willing to serve as project advisor is required for participation.

A project hearing committee made up of faculty appointed with the consultation and consent of the student will review the completed project and determine whether or not honors shall be granted.

The Student Honors Papers collection represents exemplary work in English at Illinois Wesleyan University. The Ames Library is proud to archive many of these and other honors projects in Digital Commons @ IWU, the University's online archive of student, faculty and staff scholarship and creative activity.

Pimping Caterpillars: Select Constructed and Conscious Performances of Black Masculinity from the 'Minstrel' to the 'Real Negus'
by Anastasia Lowenthal

I am no expert in black masculinity. As a white female from a small, predominantly white town, I cannot claim to understand what it is like to grow up as a black man in America. However, I believe that I, and many others, can come closer to understanding some of today's complex black masculine identities through the history of constructions and conscious (re)constructions of images of black masculinity. There are countless routes that could have been taken, and admittedly, so much more that could be said about countless images of black masculinity, including those I have represented. The few constructions that I have chosen I believe are representative of the most popularly white-consumed images of masculinity of the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries. An entire book could be written on the representations of black masculinity, and it still may never be defined. But that is what makes it interesting - the ways in which it has transformed over time, sometimes in compliance with and sometimes in reaction to white perceptions of black men. In studying selected instances of restrictive, white-constructed representations of black masculinity such as the "Uncle Tom" and the "minstrel," the "Real Nigga" who rejects white society and retaliates by expressing his power and prowess can be more deeply understood. Looking at Staples's and Lamar's criticisms of gangsta rap reveals some of the downfalls of N.W.A's "Real Nigga" identity, which, although revolutionary, was in many ways a performance of minstrelsy that satiated the American fantasy of the young black "gangsta" as the brute. The more self-aware identities that Staples and Lamar represent provide an insight to the ways that black men are viewed by modern society. They demonstrate the ways in which their ever-shifting identities influence and are influenced by the communities in which they live and the outside world's perceptions of them.

The Cloud Neighborhood
by Kristina Dehlin

While writing these poems, I thought critically about my existence and the existence of others in ways that were both difficult and enlightening for me. I was definitely altered, but to have such an effect on anyone else is a large undertaking. It feels a bit like a one-sided relationship that the world I have interacted with for this project (that is, the specific poets and locations I studied) will likely never interact with me. My hope with this collection, however, is that I can draw the attention of my readers to some of the issues that concerned me and inspired my writing. I want them to question their own place in the world-- how they got here, how stuck they are in it, how they do and should feel about it--and furthermore their ability, willingness, or necessity to empathize. I want to alter their thoughts for as long as I have their eyes on my work. If I am right about this collection's theory on the unbreakable connection between the world and the individual, then that will be enough to start changing our small place in the world.

by Mack Rivkin

One of the most difficult obstacles I faced while working on this collection of writings was articulating exactly what this project is. It is, on the surface, a Research Honors Project, defined by Illinois Wesleyan University as "an opportunity for qualified seniors to engage in a significant research project under the guidance of a faculty advisor" ("Office of the Provost"). In my preliminary Research Honors proposal, I declared my intention to concoct a capstone project which, through ecopoetics, would honor my four years of study in the fields of Environmental Studies and English. I wanted to utilize my skills in creative writing, mainly poetry, to continue exploring complex human-environment relationships and eventually give insight to my readers through vicarious exploration.

Thank You for Calling
by Colleen O'Connor

It seems absurd, sometimes, that I answer a suicide hotline when I still struggle to manage my own recurrent mental illness. Many mornings, I wake up with depression curled on my chest like my fat cat, and confuse the crushing weight for a collapsed lung. I am not always sure how much longer I will be able to keep rising before my body gives up on breath. I make lists of reasons why I should stay alive, go to work, and read them aloud to strangers in my most supportive voice. I dream about faceless children loading guns underwater and imagine the first time a caller kills herself while on the phone with me. I worry about whether I will be able to get a job, pay the rent, afford my prescriptions. I buy dry shampoo, too tired to wash my hair. After hours in the trenches of writing, I sometimes look at my lover and startle, as if just realizing that he has been here all along, as if I had been watching a stranger wash the dishes and make me breakfast. I take my medicine. I make the bed. I write these poems.

Peace With No Thing
by Patrick Cavanaugh

In this short story cycle, concrete human experience orbits abstractions, specifically the ideas of violence, pain, and indifference. To the protagonists of these stories, these abstractions seem to be in control of their lives. Pain and violence are dense bodies that hold the protagonists in their orbit. They feel there is no escape from the cycles, that they are stuck in orbit around a painful existence that will forever steep them in misery. By demonstrating how these characters' stories are connected through webs of pain, I seek to help the reader understand cycles of violence.

Memory, Deconstructed and Reconstructed An Ontward Expression of an Inward Reality
by Jessica Rochford

Opening Paragraph

Lieux de Memoire, or "places of memory," are symbolic sites of national identity. Defined in Le Grand Robert de la langue franfaise, the term is attributed to French historian Pierre Nora. Nora has compiled two large project anthologies and several individual books of essays by various authors that identify and reflect upon symbolic sites of great national importance throughout France. Nora's various collections of work, span over "seven volumes, six thousand pages") and "more than one hundred and thirty authors" (Le Goff 118). The particular project of Nora's that I will focus on, titled Realms of Memory: The Construction of the French Past, includes: Volume 1: Conflicts and Divisions, Volume 2: Traditions, and Volume 3: Symbols. Here, I will examine and apply theories from Nora's third and final volume of this project, Symbols.

Those Who Trespass
by Emily Susina

No copy of this thesis is available.

A Schema-Theoretic Approach to Agreement and Disagreement in Literary Interpretation
by Amy Fairgrieve '12

In "Interpreting the Variorium," Stanley develops his theory of reader response, one which he had already begun articulating in "Literature in the Reader," into one capable of not only describing some of the processes of reading that contribute to meaning making, but also situating the individual reader within her wider surroundings. "Interpreting the Variorium" comes at the middle of a set of essays making up Fish's book Is There a Text in this Class?, and in many ways this essay marks a transition from Fish's concern with reader response, specifically the importance of time in the process of reading, to a concern with the social forces that affect reading and the power of those forces to influence the reading process as well as agreement and disagreement between readers.

Thy Father and Thy Mother
by Natalie Lalagos '12

A collection of poetry by Natalie Lalagos.

exercising with my demons
by Bryn Saunders '12

A collection of poetry by Bryn Saunders.