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.

and I will open and close my petals
by Molly M. McLay '06

I have found that poetry provides not only a space for the articulation of voice, but also a space for vocal play. Unlike spaces containing singular, masterful voices, poetic space can be poly-vocal. Much more than the voice of a critical essay, the voices of poems can dream, argue, create, question, collide, sometimes all at the same time, in new and relevant ways. While some poems function with linearity and mastery-they make arguments and stick to them--others employ a more sensing, associative language. Some navigate the space between such states, or take on both at the same time, and still others combine a multiplicity of voices, becoming a mess, but a productive one.

if: Poems from the Unstandardized Perspective
by Douglas Pietrzak '05

When I was about six years old, I used to read a new sports book every week. The protagonist was always a five to twelve-year-old boy who was slightly dorky and had a minor quirk. Maybe he counted the number of seams on a baseball every morning, had an imaginary pet goldfish, or only wore blue shoes. He was also imaginative and interested in sports, most often baseball, but sometimes soccer. The boy usually went through a series of trials -raising money by painting a fence, helping his grandparents move to a new house, or teaching his little sister to ride a bike -before he could be part of a team. The boy and the team would then face even greater challenges. The personalities and working styles of teammates - like Jimmy, the great hitter, slick dresser and poor loser, Jorge; who liked to pretend his glove sucked in baseballs when he played outfield and often fell asleep; and Keyshawn, the great, but shy runner and fielder, but poor batter - clash until the team would eventually learn to use their differences to forge a strong new group identity. This bond allowed the team members to achieve greater individual performances, thereby compelling the team to exceed all expectations and win a championship trophy. In these books, I related to the struggles the team had to endure throughout the season and learned this lesson: the greatest teams were those that did not ignore their diverse elements and instead recognized the importance of every individual and adapted the dynamics of the team to take advantage of these differences.

My Little Force Explodes: A Re-creation of the Assembly of Emily Dickinson's Fasicicle 18
by Katie Brokaw '02

It is hard to recall my exact first encounter with Emily Dickinson. In some ways, I feel as though I have always known her. I remember quoting A word is dead! When it is said, / Some say. / I say is just / Begins to live / That day to my Junior High language arts class. Throughout the years, Dickinson has grown with me, in me. In the summer of 2000, I began an independent study focusing on ED's fascicles. It was during that summer that I chose to focus on F.18, by virtue of the fact that it contains "After Great Pain," a poem which is the quintessence of my fascination with ED. I came to see this fascicle as a microcosm, a distilled version of ED's personal crises and her crucial relationship with the world.

The Power of Perception and Origin Myth: Reconsidering the Origins of the Arthurian Legend
by Rae Marie Marotta '00

Ashe insists that the link between Riothamus and Arthur lies within the writings of Jordanes, a Gothic historian; Gregory of Tours, a Frankish historian; Sidonius Apollinaris, a Gallo-Roman author; and William, author of the Legenda Sancti Groeznovii (Lacy and Ashe 47; Ashe, "Ancient" 310-11; Ashe, Discovery 54-57). In the mid sixth century, Jordanes wrote the Gothic History, where he explained that the Britons answered the Roman Emperor Anthemius' request for aid when confronted with a Gothic threat in Gaul. However," Euric, King of the Visigoths, came against them with an innumerable army, and after a long fight he routed Riotimus, King of the Britons, before the Romans could join him" (qtd. in Ashe, " Ancient" 310). Defeated, Riothamus fled toward Burgundy.

From Literal Path to Transcendent Journey: The Pilgrim's Movement Throughout Inferno
by Shelley Manning '99

In his "Letter to Can Grande," Dante attributes the concept of polysemy, which means "many levels," to his poem. l In the letter, Dante states: "For the clarification of what I am going to say, then, it should be understood that there is not just a single sense in this work: it might rather be called polysemous, that is having several senses" ("Letter" 99). This concept not only applies to the mUlti-layered construction of the Divine Comedy but also to its interpretation. Although most critics rely upon the "Letter," I find his defense of hierarchical interpretation in the "Four Levels of Interpretation" more useful. The combination of polysemy and hierarchical interpretation is key to this study of the poem.

"Who is't can read a woman?": Shakespeare's Cymbeline and the Renaissance Woman
by Nicole Williams '98

At the end of Shakespeare's Cymbeline, the villainous Iachimo unravels the sordid details ofhis scheme to convince Posthumus that he has "enjoyed the dearest bodily part of [his] mistress," and Posthumus is struck with the horrible realization that he has commanded the murder ofhis innocent wife (1.4.40-1). Referring to his wife as a "temple / of virtue," Posthumus laments that he has destroyed Imogen's physical body, a holy space that contained a pure and righteous spirit. To his great relief, he discovers moments later that his wife is still alive and that the beauty ofboth her body and her spirit has not been marred.

Misery and Madness?: The Irish Face in Modern Irish Drama
by Rob Mawyer '98

The primary point of this paper is to examine the Irish face as it is seen in these dramas, analyzing how it functions as a symbol of the identity of Irish manhood. On one level, the Irish face reflects the traditional stereotype of the Irish hero: pathetic, drunken, crazy. It incorporates everything that is detestable about being Irish. However, it is also a shield, representing a strength that is not initially apparent. The Irish face establishes a distance from the misery and emptiness of life, a distance that underscores both the isolation of the character and the inner strength that allows him to persevere. In this sense, the Irish face works as both face and mask--Ioyally representing the awful, the pathetic qualities of the character while obscuring something deeper, harder, more admirable underneath.

Expressions of Divine Order in the Canterbury Tales
by Nicole Buscemi '97

The expression of divine order permeates much of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The methods used in the attempt to express divine order vary greatly, most notably from the "Knight's Tale" to the "Second Nun's Tale." In the "Knight's Tale," Theseus operates within the hierarchy of the patriarchal feudal system. Situated at the top of the human chain of being, Theseus tries to duplicate the "ordre" which he finds embodied in the works of the Firste Moevere (3003). Destruction and containment are used in these attempts at bringing about order which are characteristic of male attempts to impose order on that which seems chaotic. Theseus' construction of the lists epitomizes an attempt to establish order through this mode. Although Theseus thinks he understands his place in this hierarchy, he oversteps his authority and tries to place himself higher in the hierarchy than he belongs. Rather than recognizing his place as above his subjects but under God (or the Firste Moevere of his final speech), Theseus equates himself with the divine. However, since Theseus is human, he cannot fully understand the divine plan and as a result, his attempts at ordering do not achieve the desired effect.

Sexuality and the Balance of Power in the Canterbury Tales
by Sarah C. Zumdahl '97

When examining ideas on the sexuality of Chaucer's characters, one cannot help but come across the work of Alfred David. In his bookTheStrumpet Muse, David studies selected Canterbury tales from the perspective of New Criticism, analyzing various sexual attitudes expressed in the separate tales. In this paper I appropriate a basic concept of David's and use it to my own feminist critical purposes, adding significantly to David's core idea. Throughout the following study of sexuality and power in the Canterbury Tales, I use "sexual natural" to define a certain state of human sexuality. While the term is my own, the idea is drawn from David's general argument on the "comedy of innocence"(95).

Adult Attachment Style and Attitudinal Assessment of Preferred Timing of First Marriage
by Elizabeth J. Arthur '97

The study assessed the factors contributing to expected ages of marriage in two student populations that are presumed to differ in academic achievement and goals. A primarily goal of this study was to describe the influence that adult attachment style has upon a person's expected age at marriage. A secondary goal was to explore other social and goal-oriented influences on timing of marriage in the two populations. There were no significant differences in attachment style for men and women. The more Avoidantly a person ranked, the later the age at which they expected to get married. University students' ideas about marriage were more influenced by educational goals than the community college sample. There were significant differences between men and women in expected age at marriage and the degree of influence of certain goals. It was found was that the community college students considered themselves to be adults at a younger age than the university group and ideally wanted to start a family at an earlier age.