Graphic Narratives and Trauma

Julia Poage (Trinity ‘19) and Ariel del Vecchio (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Vicki Aarons

This interdisciplinary, collaborative project explores the relation of art and trauma through interactive modes of artistic expression in which text and image merge in the process of memorializing trauma and bearing witness to catastrophic moments in history. The developing genre of graphic narratives, through the juxtaposition of text and image, extends the narrative of past trauma into the present. With memory as the controlling trope, graphic novelists and illustrators together create testimonial art. The economy of graphic narratives lends itself to the midrashic imperative of testimony, giving voice to unrecoverable loss. Our project thus explores the ways in which, in recreating moments of traumatic rupture, dislocation, and disequilibrium – the primary tropes of Holocaust representation – such graphic narratives contribute to the evolving field of trauma studies and Holocaust representation by establishing a visual testimony to memory.

 

Media Literacy in an Age of Bots, Sockpuppets and Fake News

Mary Margaret Herring (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Aaron Delwiche

Emerging technologies have significantly transformed political propaganda in ways which have poisoned the public sphere from the inside out. On all sides of the spectrum, armies of sockpuppets and bots are influencing public opinion, drowning out dissenting voices, and swaying the outcome of national elections. While much attention has focused on so-called "fake news," the real story is the role that sockpuppets and bots have played in propagating disinformation. Most citizens are unaware of these developments, and they lack any way of fighting back. In this project, we will deploy an interactive web site which explains how these technologies are used to influence online conversations and teaches concerned citizens how to combat their effects. Designed for a general audience, these tools will be suitable for use in  high school classrooms, book clubs, and community centers by people who are looking for ways to identify valid sources of news and information.

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Marriage: A History

Thomas Harvell-DeGolier (Trinity ‘19) and Dr. Anene Ejikeme

In the U.S. today, one in two marriages ends in divorce.  Such a high divorce rate has led, unsurprisingly, to much prognosticating, with politicians, scholars, and others weighing in on the dire consequences for society if “the traditional family,” its basic building block, is damaged irreparably. Yet, what we think of today as “traditional marriage,” a monogamous union based on love is the product of a specific history. This is part of a larger research project on the history of marriage cross-culturally. This Summer Undergraduate Research Project will focus on the United States, although there will be some African sources included.  This project will explore the history of marriage, focusing on locating and uncovering forms of marriage in earlier eras that do not conform to contemporary notions of “traditional marriage.”

 

Ancient Near Eastern Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art

Elizabeth Day (Trinity ‘19) and Dr. Mark Garrison

This project seeks to study and publish the corpus of ancient Near Eastern seals in the San Antonio Museum of Art. The collection consists of thirty-four cylinder seals and twelve stamp seals. These objects originated from what we today call the ancient Near East, an area encompassing principally the contemporary countries of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Iran, and the Palestinian territories. Engraved seals are one of the most distinctive (and numerous) types of surviving artifacts that carry figural imagery from the ancient Near East. These seals, cylindrical- and stamp-shaped pieces of stone (or, less commonly, wood, metal, bone, or ivory), were carved (in the negative) with sometimes remarkably complex figural imagery. Seals were used in a variety of socio-administrative contexts in the ancient world. The principal medium of writing was the clay tablet. Seals were pressed/rolled into the still damp clay tablet so as to leave an impression of the figural imagery. The impressed images then functioned in a manner similar to modern signatures in ink today. Seals are small and easily transported. They have, since antiquity, been highly desired by collectors. Seals often thus end up in modern museum collections, as the seals that currently reside in the San Antonio Museum have. Although we lack any information about the original contexts of the seals in this collection, through comparative analysis our study will be able to situate each seal in time and space, and provide some comments on the significance of the figural imagery.
 

The Invisible City: Travel, Attention and Performance

Nicholas Champion (Trinity ‘19) and Holly Gabelmann (Trinity ‘19) and Dr. Kyle Gillette

Cities are deeply interwoven with spectacle and performance but also remain mostly invisible. Labor, immigration, demolitions, myths, rituals, riots, public memories and interlacing private stories leave the most cryptic traces. How might art embedded in urban spaces help us see layers of the city normally obscured by habit or desire? Our project involves research toward a book that mixes travelogue with literary criticism, urban anthropology with theatrical pedagogy. The Invisible City explores the city as both stage and subject in three parts: 1) a constellation of vignettes that unfold individual cities through travel writing and engagement with texts and performances that draw them out; 2) an intimate portrait of Teatro Potlach’s twenty-six-year-old ongoing project Invisible Cities, which has created site-specific performances in dozens of cities as an anthropology of their memory; and 3) a set of exercises to guide artists and travelers to explore urban spaces as sites and sources.

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The Microbial Palette at the Interface of Science and Art

Katie Warford (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Frank Healy

Microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi are ubiquitous members of the natural world; yet most remain invisible to the casual observer. When cast into an observable perspective, for example under a microscope or viewing large populations, microorganisms display a vast range of colors, shapes and textures, due to ecological, morphological, physiological and biochemical properties. While microbiological inquiry has historically been driven by scientific-empirical questions and principles, this work seeks to explore the visual aesthetic dimension of microbial diversity and its use as a medium for artistic expression. The project opens a discussion across scientific and artistic intellectual boundaries and encourages the exploration of the similarities and contrasts between conveyance and exhibition of data and art. Through the creation of an artistic microbial palette and the introduction of artistic components to science courses, the project will strengthen ties and exposure of liberal arts students to themes and issues related to the intellectual interface between science and art. In broader terms, the project initiates a dialog of the ways in which humanity perceives, processes, interacts with, and responds to the world.

 

Maverick Rights: Mayor Maury Maverick and Free Speech in Wartime San Antonio

Simone Washington (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Jennifer Henderson

A former U.S. Representative and Texas firebrand, Maury Maverick Sr. was a staunch Democrat, New Deal Reformer, and vocal supporter of free speech, especially for minority groups in his hometown of San Antonio.  For example, in 1939, Mayor Maverick approved a permit for the use of the Municipal Auditorium by the Communist Party. This event, which was opposed by the Catholic archbishop and by every veterans group in the city, ended in a “stone hurling crowd of 5,000,” breaking “nearly every window in the building.” This incident had a significant impact on Maverick’s core values and career. In 1940, he rejected a similar request by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to use the auditorium, silencing the voice of this controversial religious sect. But this was just the start. For the remainder of his term as mayor, he rejected almost every minority group request for access to public spaces for assembly or speech. Ironically, this turn away from free speech did not help his public approval ratings. Maverick was ultimately voted out of office in 1941, after being labeled a Communist himself.  This summer, the Maverick Rights book project will focus on Maury Maverick Sr.’s uneasy relationship with San Antonio’s Black community, and specifically, the NAACP.

 

Scouting Racism: The Permeation of Racial Stereotypes in Professional Athletics

Gavin Huse (Trinity ‘19) and Dr. Dominic Morais

The National Football League (NFL) annually drafts the best collegiate athletes from across the United States in what many in the U.S. consider the biggest non-sporting sporting event. Framed through Critical Race Theory, the purpose of our study is to examine the language NFL.com uses to describe potential draftees on its site. We will examine the descriptions of 100 players in each draft from 2014 to 2017 using a content analysis in an effort to identify stereotypes inherent in draftee descriptions. We will quantify those results and use a regression analysis to explore correlations with factors such as race, position, and performance in certain physical drills. Considering the widespread use of racial stereotypes in sport, as well as the increasing popularity of the NFL draft, this study is significant in addressing stereotypes that occur on the professional level in order to inform and modify the way individuals in the U.S. comprehend their sport experiences. We plan to present this project at a research conference focused on sport and society. Then we will submit the manuscript for publication in a journal focused on sport and culture or sport and diversity.

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Understanding Electronic Waste in America: Waste and Value as a Discourse of "New Life"

Michael Paniagua (Trinity ‘19), Nhi Nguyen (Trinity '19; Murchison Fellow) 

and Dr. Tahir Naqvi

Our project will examine the spatial, material, and ethical practices that surround the salvaging of electronic waste (“e-waste”). Approximately 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide annually. Most of it is exported to cities in East Asia and the Global South where value—in the form of reusable components, materials, and labor—is extracted in under-regulated and highly unsafe conditions. We seek to understand e-waste salvaging as an internally diverse and globalizing assemblage of relations between human and non-human actors. Specifically, we focus on domestic sites in which electronic waste is assigned value in relation to technical processes and social relations that construct value as a form of “new life.”

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Transatlantic Perspectives: Spanish Cultural Production

about New York

Jennifer Ochoa (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Debra Ochoa

Our project focuses on literary narratives written by Spaniards from 2000 to the present. Recent publications have brought to light Spanish literature set in the United States, but there remains a significant body of work that has yet to be analyzed, specifically narratives written and published in the twenty-first century. We aim to ameliorate this critical gap in scholarship, and we identify additional themes that have yet to receive sufficient analysis, namely gender and how Spanish writers depict male versus female urban subjects’ experiences. To date, the majority of research completed on Spanish narratives about New York does not include the study of women writers; therefore, we will include Rosa Montero and Soledad Puértolas, among others. This project takes a cultural studies approach that explores gender, urban space, and globalization.

 

Introducing Isis: A Student Commentary on Apuleius’ Metamorphoses

Andrew Tao (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Tim O’Sullivan

Our research project is a student commentary on Book 11 of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses. Apuleius' Metamorphoses, one of two extant Roman novels, has been the subject of a surge of scholarly interest in the last 25 years. The novel is particularly well served by scholarly commentaries, but there has been a lack of materials published for undergraduates to use to navigate this very difficult text. We have been working on a student commentary on Book 11, the final book of the novel, for the past 9 months, and we plan to complete a draft of this commentary by the end of the summer. The commentary will be published as an open-access book with a print-on-demand option.

 

Visualizing Donne's Elegies: Objectivity, Objectification, and the Representation of Gender

Kristina Reinis (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Willis Salomon

As readers acknowledge, John Donne’s elegies (1590s), written early in his literary life, bear two notable characteristics. One, they are visual, known for an arresting “realism” in their representation of attitudes about love and desire. Two, they bespeak alternating, seemingly contradictory, attitudes about women, sometimes horrifically misogynistic, sometimes motivated by sensitivity and mutuality. These two qualities together give them a vividness that begs for visual representation. The success of illustrated poems later in the history of book production, like the 1714 edition of Alexander Pope’s poem “The Rape of the Lock” – a satiric poem about gendered conflict – suggests the potential interpretive value of producing accompanying visual representations of some of Donne’s elegies. Donne’s distinctive poems offer an opportunity to discuss issues of gender from the perspective of their “visual” verbal strategies, as well as more general interpretive issues related to intersections among poetic voice, ocular verbal representation, and painting.

 

Surveying Classical Traditions in Modern Fantasy

Maggie Lupo (Trinity ‘21) and Dr. Benjamin Stevens

This project aims at continuing a survey and catalogue of primary materials and published research in the study of classical traditions in science fiction and modern fantasy (CTSFMF). Despite increased theoretical sophistication, CTSFMF remains new enough that (1) the primary materials for study—science fiction and fantasy literature, film, and television—have not been surveyed and catalogued for their possible classical receptions, and (2) there is no up-to-date and running bibliography of the published research. This project will continue the work begun last summer by extending the focus from science fiction to fantasy. A particular topic of interest may be the intersection of classical myth and Christian imagery in “high fantasy” such as the Anglican Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and the Catholic Lewis's Narnia.

 

Methodist and Presbyterian Latinos and Political Activism

in San Antonio

Jamiless Lopez (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Angela Tarango

For our project, we will undertake a comprehensive ethno-historical study of two majority-Latino Mainline Protestant congregations in San Antonio. We will focus on the religiously motivated political engagement of the parishioners and pastors, especially in regards to recent attitudes towards immigration and the issues around President Trump’s so-called border wall. The specific questions we wish to deal with include: do the congregants organize politically and religiously around the issue of the proposed border wall, how do they view the issue of undocumented immigration from Latin America, including the implementation of SB4, and the potential repeal of DACA, and how do they/do not resist against the rising tide of hate rhetoric? La Trinidad United Methodist Church and Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church are the two churches I have identified to be studied. Both have historic majority Latino congregations and are led by non-Latino pastors.

 

Acting to Combat Stigma Surrounding HIV and AIDS

Testing and Treatment  

Euphrosyne Barr (Trinity '19), Julia Grace Palmer (Trinity '19), Chiara Pride (Trinity '20),

Jullian Valadez (Trinity '21) and Rohan Walawalkar (Trinity '20)

Dr. Rob Huesca, Dr. Roberto Prestigiacomo and Dr. Rita Urquijo-Ruiz

“Acting to Combat Stigma Surrounding HIV and AIDS Testing and Treatment in San Antonio” is a Mellon institute bringing together five students and three faculty in a community theatre intervention intended to improve public health delivery. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 34 San Antonio residents, faculty and students will create original theatrical productions depicting lived experiences with stigma related to HIV and AIDS testing and treatment. For health care professionals, stigma is the greatest social impediment to combatting the AIDS epidemic. Using Theatre for Social Change and its innovative “Forum Theatre” method, students will perform the play, lead discussions, and involve audiences in creating innovative responses to stigmatizing experiences in a variety of local settings.