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.

exercising with my demons
by Bryn Saunders '12

A collection of poetry by Bryn Saunders.

Rural Queen
by Amanda Williams '12

A collection of poems by Amanda Williams.

water burial
by Korey Williams '12

A collection of poems by Korey Williams.

The Dark Places of Psychology: Consciousness in Virginia Woolf's Major Novels
by Linda Martin

In a 1919 essay, Virginia Woolf wrote that “[f]or the moderns ‘that,’ the point of interest, lies very likely in the dark places of psychology.” For Woolf, this assertion represented a career-long interest in the mind and consciousness; she made a project of describing and explaining the mystery of subjective experience in her fiction. In my paper, I argue that specific, turn-of-the-century psychologists’ and scholars’ theories of consciousness influenced and inspired Woolf to integrate their ideas into her fiction. Further, through an in-depth exploration of Woolf’s middle fiction (Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and The Waves), I demonstrate that Woolf proactively interrogated consciousness theory in her novels, ultimately rejecting the reigning models and, in The Waves, forming her own unique conceptualization of consciousness. Finally, I critique Woolf’s innovative theory in terms of contemporary, 21st century consciousness theory, concluding that Woolf’s aesthetically-developed theory of consciousness, in fact, predicted and draws many similarities to current consciousness scholarship.

Only Dull Readers Escape: Framing Humor and Materiality in Stephen Crane's The Black Riders and other lines
by Andrew J. Dorkin

In this essay, I attempt to reorient the scholarship of Stephen Crane’s first book of poems, The Black Riders and other lines (1895), towards understanding the text’s affective purpose. I begin by illuminating the subtle but pervasive humor of The Black Riders, a critically underdeveloped, but nonetheless major, component of the reader’s experience; too often, it seems, this humor is marginalized by the assumption that Crane’s verse consists primarily of philosophical aphorisms meant to be taken seriously. After orienting my reader to the humor of the lines, I use Catherine Emmott’s Contextual Frame Theory as a model for the way readers engage the text; this theory, as I have applied it, accounts for the way our interpretive processes are shaped by our own “contextual frames,” which organize the information we receive from the text and the assumptions we make about it. Having established a frame of The Black Riders that recognizes its humor and, consequently, our own laughter response, I contend that we as readers will be primed to find ourselves directly subject to the condemnation of insensitive laughter contained in the text. The succeeding frame of The Black Riders as possessing both a subtle humor and a remarkable degree of reader interaction primes us to accept Jerome McGann’s claim about the “typographical wit” in Crane’s lines; this, in turn, establishes a new frame of typographical and material awareness that integrates the effects McGann has articulated and moves beyond them, ultimately incorporating another presentational feature, the original page turns.

Responding to Romanticism
by Valerie Higgins '08

My vision was aided by the fact that this course on the Romantics encouraged me to engage with the material in ways that were both critical and creative. In addition to critical essays and papers, one assignment required that students keep a notebook of personal responses to course readings. The seeds for the essays in this project were planted and germinated in that assignment. Thus, it was my creative and critical reactions to the work of the Romantics, combined with the creative and critical works of the Romantics themselves, which provided me with examples of a different kind of engagement with texts, illustrating the possibility of a response that was both visceral and reflective, emotional and intellectual, imaginative and theoretical.

Much Ado About Nothing's Criticism of the Renaissance Patriarchy
by Kristen Zomparelli '07

Conventional beliefs during the Renaissance still supported unchallenged patriarchal rule. Male domestic treatise writers as well as male educators during the Renaissance prescribed silence as a necessary virtue for the ideal woman (Hull, Women 23). The most common rationale for women's silence was religious, and men used Biblical examples - such as the story of creation, the story of the Fall, and the Proverbial descriptions of the good wife - to support their beliefs in women's silence (Kelso 3). Men also prescribed obedience, chastity, and domesticity for women as a strategic method of preserving men's limitless, unchallenged power (Hull, Women 23). Men kept women marginalized and silent to prevent any disturbances or threats to the patriarchy.

Raiding the Archive: A Study in the Veneration and Visibility of the Lindisfarne Gospels
by Rebecca Welzenbach '07

The Lindisfarne Gospels (LG), also known as BL MS Cotton Nero D.iv, an eighth-century English Gospel Book, has been revered since its creation for its unique illuminations and its Anglo-Saxon gloss of the Latin gospels. The codex has changed hands many times, surviving Viking attacks, the Norman Conquest, and the tragic biblioclasm associated with the English Reformation. This study examines the way that three owners of the manuscript have understood and negotiated the balance between protecting the LG and sharing its treasures with pilgrims and scholars. I explore the methods and motives of the eighth-century monastic community that produced the LG; the Jacobean librarian, Sir Robert Cotton; and London's British Library. Although growing collections, impressive buildings, and advances in digital technology suggest that present-day scholars have increased accessibility to rare books like this one, librarians enshrine the LG today in almost the same way that medieval clergy did.

Stepping through the Thin, Crackly Crust of the Present: Historians, Biographers, Novelists and Jack Burden
by Lindsay A. Theisen '07

From the back of my copy of All the King's Men I learned that Willie Stark is an important part of "our collective literary consciousness," and that he is as memorable as Holden Caulfield or Huck Finn. This statement is both interesting and suspect, because Willie Stark is neither the focus of the novel nor its most compelling character. Apparently, though, charismatic politicians are infinitely more engaging than well-spoken, introspective, and witty writers - at least to some of Robert Penn Warren's peers. Despite Jack Burden's position as the protagonist in the novel, any simple plot summary of All the King's Men will focus upon Willie Stark's career and demise. Willie resonates with readers: he is not so specific as to preclude our memories of real politicians (particularly Huey P. Long, upon whom he is based), yet not so vague as to blend into the communal lull of characters we've encountered. So while Burden may be our narrator and interpreter, the focus of his attention is Willie, forcing the politician to the foreground. We follow Jack's gaze - sometimes home to his mother, sometimes back in time to his adolescence, but always toward the capital and Willie - and can only view history through him. The novel is, then, almost a fictional memoir by Huey P. Long's assistant, as it contains information about his boss, his job, and his personal life. The most compelling moments of the novel emerge when these three intersect, and when Jack attempts to interpret their implications. History is made through such attempts, and even if Jack is a fictional character, his insights ring clear in our world as well as his.

"Spirit of Health" and "Goblin Damned": The Ghost of King Hamlet as a Symbol for the Religious Ambialence in England during the Religious Reformation
by Bridget O'Connor '06

A mysterious apparition appears during the opening scene of Hamlet, paradoxically seeking revenge and eternal peace. The Ghost of King Hamlet, unlike the supernatural spirits in most of Shakespeare's plays, is one of the most significant characters in Hamlet because he is the catalyst that sets the play in motion. Without him, Hamlet would never have known the truth about his father's death and would never have embarked upon the mission to kill Claudius. Because the Ghost's role is so pivotal to the plot, it was essential that the Elizabethan audience believed that the Ghost was real in order for the play to be successful. However, due to the cultural and religious beliefs at the time, this was no easy feat for Shakespeare to accomplish. England was in the midst of the Religious Reformation, swinging back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism - two religions with two very different beliefs about ghosts. Remnants of both religions are present in Hamlet, and as a result, a lengthy debate over the Ghost's true religious affiliation has ensued over the centuries since the play was written. However, I believe that the Ghost of King Hamlet cannot be defined as wholly Catholic or Protestant, but rather serves as a symbol for the religious ambivalence present in England during the time it was written.